DeAndre Jordan is officially on the market. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Jordan declined his $24.1 million player option with the Clippers in advance of free agency. His choice projects a certain confidence. Teams aren't technically allowed to make contact with prospective free agents until July 1, yet those in Jordan's position don't typically put tens of millions of dollars on the line without a feel for their impending offers.
One such offer could come from the Mavericks, whom Jordan agreed to sign with—and then spurned—back in 2015. His was the free agency that launched a thousand emojis. Clipper teammates rallied to Jordan's home, convinced him to renege on his deal with Dallas, ate some chicken fingers and had a good laugh. Now, three years later, every one of those Clipper teammates has moved on. Jordan was the last leg of Lob City, and there is reportedly mutual interest between him and the Mavs in picking up where they left off.
Turning down his player option, however, effectively ends the reported trade talks between the Clippers and Mavericks. Jordan watched last summer as Chris Paul, who had a similar option, engineered his way to Houston via trade by opting into the final year of his deal. That sort of framework was in play as recently as Friday, though the two teams couldn't agree on the exact trade package. Marc Stein of the New York Timesreported that Dallas—which would send Wesley Matthews to Los Angeles—was unwilling to sweeten the deal with draft picks.
Instead, the Mavericks will have the opportunity to sign Jordan outright. This looks to be an especially frigid market for centers, but Dallas is the rare team with both the need and the cap space to make a move worth Jordan's while. Expect a rich deal in relatively short order, with jokes to follow until the second that Jordan's pen touches paper.
The Clippers, for their part, procured Jordan's replacement before he was even out the door. Earlier this week, the Clips traded Austin Rivers to Washington in exchange for veteran center Marcin Gortat. This time, Jordan's way back is shut.