DALLAS (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers made a last-ditch push Wednesday to keep DeAndre Jordan after the free agent center had second thoughts about his agreement to join the Dallas Mavericks, people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Jordan and the Mavericks agreed to terms on a four-year, $80 million contract last Friday. The Clippers can offer a five-year deal worth even more once contracts can be signed starting Thursday — and Los Angeles put together a full-court press to keep Jordan with the only team he has ever played for over seven NBA seasons.
The Clippers sent a contingent to Houston to make a personal pitch to Jordan, a group that includes Blake Griffin and Paul Pierce, according to a person with knowledge of the plan. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the details.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was already in Houston to try to persuade Jordan to stick with his commitment to the Mavericks, according to a second person who spoke to AP also on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the team’s plans. Jordan is a Houston native who played at Texas A&M.
Losing Jordan could be a blow to the Mavericks’ hopes of winning their first playoff series since taking the franchise’s first championship four years ago. It could also lead to a debate about the effectiveness of the NBA’s moratorium in free agency.
The ban on signing deals for about a week and a half after the start of free agency was put into the labor agreement in an attempt to stop tampering, but instead has created the possibility of players having second thoughts.
Dallas lost point guard Jason Kidd to the New York Knicks in 2012 after he initially agreed to return to the Mavericks, who ended up missing the playoffs that season for the first time in 12 years.
Jordan has led the NBA in rebounding the past two years and is coming off career highs in scoring and rebounding at 11.5 points and 15.0 rebounds per game. He helped the Clippers get within a victory of the Western Conference finals for the first time, but a second-half collapse at home in Game 6 was followed by a loss in the deciding game at Houston.
The Mavericks, who lost to the Rockets in the first round, also have a four-year agreement with free agent shooting guard Wesley Matthews, though the value of that deal is expected to depend on whether Dallas lands Jordan.
The unusual last-minute lobbying played out on Twitter with various players tweeting emojis with apparent references to traveling to Houston to meet with Jordan.
Dallas forward Chandler Parsons, who played a crucial role in getting the original commitment from Jordan, tweeted an emoji of an airplane. Griffin sent one with the same plane, plus a helicopter and a car. Clippers point guard Chris Paul had a tweet of a banana and a boat, apparently a joking reference to his recent vacation with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. Paul wasn’t with the Clippers for their first meeting with Jordan last week.
The barrage of tweets prompted Kobe Bryant to weigh in with "Emoji battle?" — without an emoji. The Golden State Warriors, still less than a month removed from winning the NBA title, offered one showing a trophy.