DeAndre Jordan signing is a huge risk worth taking for Mavericks

DeAndre Jordan signing is a huge risk worth taking for Mavericks

DeAndre Jordan could fall apart without Chris Paul, but he also could become the star of a rising Mavericks team.

DeAndre Jordan is going home ... not that Houston and Dallas are at all the same. Or DeAndre Jordan is running away from Chris Paul ... the point guard whose passing probably earned him all that money.

Jordan's reasoning for choosing the Mavericks over the Clippers — agreeing to a four-year, $80 million contract, according to Yahoo Sports — is not the important part now. The decision has been made, and the papers will be signed soon after the free agency moratorium lifts July 9.

Now we must focus on who DeAndre Jordan is as a player. We know he is a 7-foot, ridiculously athletic, 26-year-old center who can't shoot a lick, is prone to defensive mistakes and has never shown any sign of post moves. But Jordan has been trapped in the comfortable bubble of playing with Paul and Blake Griffin, and personality conflicts aside, those two stars covered up both deficiencies and opportunity.

Jordan should be the best player on the Mavericks. His rebounding and total paint domination put him ahead of Chandler Parsons, who struggled last season outside of the Rockets' system, and even Dirk Nowitzki, though the 37-year-old German should not be counted out as a real contributor next season. Wesley Matthews was a nice signing if he can get healthy, but he can't be counted on to start next season.

So the Mavs are hinging their playoff hopes in the twilight of the Nowitzki era on a big man with glaring flaws and a shooting guard coming off a torn Achilles tendon. And they still don't have a point guard.

But here's why the risk was right: Jordan has more high-end potential than any player in this free agency market. LaMarcus Aldridge is a proven star, but Jordan is not proven at all — and we already know he's good. He has size, athleticism and hands that make him the most dangerous roll man in the NBA, and he rebounds with a ferocity no one can match.

So can he become more? That's the gamble. Jordan's free throw woes make clear that he won't be hitting step-back jumpers on the baseline any time soon, but he has better footwork than people give him credit for. Even without Paul on the court over the past two years, he has shot 70.9 percent at the basket and 65.2 percent overall, according to NBAwowy.com.


We have seen big men struggle without Paul in the past; Tyson Chandler took a few years to regain any offensive production after leaving New Orleans. But Chandler found his offensive game when he got to Dallas, of all places. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is one of the best strategians in the game, and he now has a stronger, more athletic and more aggressive version of Chandler.

He also should be able to put Jordan in better defensive positions. That was an issue with the Clippers, where Jordan's defensive reputation far exceeded his actual play. Clippers coach Doc Rivers is a brilliant offensive mind but never quite figured out what to do with Jordan's size, pinning him to the basket and putting him in tough positions from which to stop the heavy penetration that the Clippers faced.

Los Angeles needs Jordan, though. They don't have salary cap space to sign anyone else, so their best bets now are figuring out how to work a trade that would bring in a player another team doesn't want, which also means a hefty bill for owner Steve Ballmer. That might mean Roy Hibbert or, if the Wizards land David West, maybe Nene. Or they could try to move Blake Griffin to center, though that seems like a recipe for an upset superstar whose potential on both ends would be reduced without a second big man playing full time.


But Dallas needed Jordan more, not for the 2015-16 season as much as the future. That should have factored into the Houston native's decision more than petty disputes with Paul or the desire to return to a place closer to (but still not) home. Dallas can build around Jordan and make him the focal point for its bevy of shooters — yes, including Nowitzki. It's not hard to imagine him putting up 18 points and 14 rebounds a game if they can find a point guard.

It's also not hard to imagine him clamming up in the spotlight, removed from the open court provided by Paul and Griffin.

But that was the risk for a team that needed to take it.

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