Updated Trade Packages and Landing Spots for DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan is a tough guy to trade.
Not impossible...but tough.
That's because logic suggests he'll opt out of the final year of his contract this summer, hoping to cash in on one more multi-year deal before he hits the steep downslope of a post-30 decline (DJ hits the big three-oh on July 21, 2018).
If you're acquiring him, you've got to consider two possible downsides: Either he walks in free agency, or he sticks around and you're the team committing big money to a conventional center in his 30s.
Those are also concerns from the Los Angeles Clippers' perspective. If they don't want to lose Jordan for nothing in free agency or pay his next contract, their motivation to move him now should be strong. With Blake Griffin locked into a five-year max, Jordan is one of the few ways they can generate flexibility and/or replenish their roster-building assets.
By now, you've heard most of the conventional fits for Jordan. The Milwaukee Bucks have come up most often, and we can't ignore them here. But in addition to figuring out packages for that club, we'll get way out into the weeds and draw up some exchanges you probably haven't thought of yet.
Because admit it: You'd like to see Damian Lillard throwing lobs to Jordan in a playoff series.
Los Angeles Clippers Get: John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, Thon Maker and a 2020 second-round pick
Milwaukee Bucks Get: DeAndre Jordan and Brice Johnson
Longtime Bucks reporter Gery Woelfel's sources indicated the Clips had eyes for Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton (among others) in a potential Jordan deal, which...sure.
But if you're the Bucks, you're laughing long and hard at the idea of giving up quality, affordable rotation players for a possible rental whose rim protection you don't actually need that badly. At the same time, Milwaukee's bold acquisition of Eric Bledsoe suggests it's not messing around.
As L.A. realizes the market for a Jordan rental isn't so hot, maybe this package is enough to make it happen. Maker might be tough to pry from the Bucks, even if his progress this season has been a bit disappointing. But it's hard to see Milwaukee making his inclusion a deal-breaker—especially if it means keeping Brogdon, Middleton or anyone else who's actually been productive this year out of the exchange.
This feels like a brutal sell-low return for the Clippers, but guess what: They are selling low!
The Bucks might even be cool with the possibility of renting and losing Jordan after this season at a price like this, particularly since Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to grow to 7'9", have x-ray vision and spend all his minutes at center by next season anyway.
New York Knicks
Los Angeles Clippers Get: Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott
New York Knicks Get: DeAndre Jordan
Sometimes, in the difficult search to justify the illogical, you have to step back and acknowledge that not every team approaches its transactions with the same level of rationality. Standards vary. Risk tolerances are all over the place.
In related news: Yeah, the Knicks would sooooo do this.
Jordan is a name, and New York loves names. More than that, he's a better player than Kanter and would probably help the Knicks win a few more games this year. That'd damage their draft odds, but after a start like this, a full tank is out of the question anyway.
Jordan and Kanter can both opt out this summer, so the Knicks don't really end up in that different of a position, financially speaking. Maybe they'd like to hand Jordan a fat new deal (probably while stretching Joakim Noah's).
For the Clippers, Kanter is four years younger than Jordan and a bit cheaper this year and next (if he were to opt in). McDermott has proved to be a clever scorer in New York, cutting and contorting defenses with the threat of his perimeter shot. He'd be an intriguing fit with a healthy Griffin running the offense and Gallinari acting as a second option.
Ultimately, this deal involves two teams exchanging opt-out candidates, with the Knicks taking on the bigger name and the bigger risk. Again, New York has generally been cool with that.
Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Clippers Get: Jusuf Nurkic, Maurice Harkless, Ed Davis
Portland Trail Blazers Get: DeAndre Jordan
Oddly, the Blazers need an offensive kick this season. After several years of scoring efficiently and not defending, Portland has flipped. And Jordan rolling down the lane for lobs as C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard space the floor could juice the attack nicely.
Nurkic's arrival coincided with a two-way boost down the stretch last year, but Portland has been mediocre for most of the 2017-18 season. Jordan is a tremendous rebounder, and though he's not as offensively dynamic as Nurkic, he's a superior vertical spacer as a roll man. The schematic fit makes sense, and we know DJ and Dame are adept troublemakers when together.
The worry for Portland might be Nurkic improving as he gets into his mid-20s. But Lillard is already 27, and McCollum's 26. They're in their primes right now, which is why adding an older player isn't the worst idea.
Short term, the Blazers get better. Long term, maybe they'd prefer to ink Jordan to a new deal instead of Nurkic. The Bosnian Beast has yet to prove he can stay healthy, while Jordan has averaged 80.8 games per season dating back to 2012-13. A trade like this also allows Portland—the sixth-highest salary in the league—to avoid Ed Davis' upcoming raise next summer.
For Los Angeles, it gets the chance to spend cash on a 23-year-old center instead of one that'll turn 30 early in free agency this summer. Health could be a concern for Nurkic, but when you price in Jordan's likely age-related decline, it's not a stretch to say the younger big man will be more productive over the next half-decade or so.
Davis' deal comes off the books, and Harkless has been a useful three-and-D wing in the recent past. If he irons out his shot, he could be a quality starter for the Clippers at reasonable rates ($10.8 million next year, $11.5 million in 2019-20).
Los Angeles Clippers Get: Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier
Orlando Magic Get: DeAndre Jordan, Brice Johnson
The Magic need a change, and snagging Jordan gives them two paths forward.
If he bolts as a free agent, they've at least unloaded about $64 million in salary (starting with next year's numbers) by getting off Fournier and Vucevic's deals. From there, Orlando can look to build around a frontcourt of Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac, which is a viable 4-5 combo in the modern NBA.
But if Jordan stays put by opting in or signing a new deal with Orlando, the Gordon-Isaac-DJ frontcourt could be intriguing. Gordon is better utilized as a power forward, but his evolving three-point shot gives him a touch more positional flexibility. It's not a foregone conclusion that his days as a wing are kaput.
For the Clips, adding two capable offensive players to a core that already has Griffin and Gallinari could lead to a formidable attack. This would be a total punt on a rebuild, but we've already hit on how L.A. is stuck with Griffin's massive contract. A fresh start isn't really possible, and it's worth noting that this ownership group, led by Steve Ballmer, has leaned on a win-now emphasis from the jump.
If the Clippers believe Jordan could ditch them (which, for the record, he technically did three summers ago before the ensuing hostage situation reordered his priorities), they'd be acting in an on-brand way by grasping at vets to stay relevant.
Los Angeles Clippers Get: Hassan Whiteside
Miami Heat Get: DeAndre Jordan
Based on their long employment of Jordan, the Clippers are obviously into the whole "traditional center" thing. So you'd have to think they're one team that wouldn't balk at swapping out one old-school big for another. The positive for L.A. in this scenario is cost control, as Whiteside is under contract for two more years and about $52.5 million after this one.
There's no way the Clippers sign Jordan to a new deal for any less than that, so there's some real savings here. Plus, if it's long-term flexibility L.A.'s after, Whiteside can opt out of his contract after next year. Think of it like buying one more year of solid center play and seeing if the current veteran core (composed mainly of Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari) can put something together next season.
That's the tricky thing with these DJ trades. The Clippers aren't really in a position to blow the whole thing up because Griffin and Gallo are on the books and in the late stages of their primes. Maybe this buys another year of competitive play before readdressing that imminent teardown.
The Heat are always (and should be) confident they can convince players to stick around once they get a taste of the organizational culture. And also the quality of life in South Florida.
For a squad that locked itself into several contracts at or slightly above market rates over the summer (think James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Dion Waiters and Josh Richardson), Jordan is a worthwhile gamble. He's more mature and experienced than Whiteside, which ought to help in a playoff chase, and the theoretical doomsday scenario of him leaving in free agency actually isn't so devastating. Miami could actually use the wiggle room his departure would create—not to mention the relief of not having to pay Whiteside more than $25 million per season through 2020.