DeAndre Jordan, Do I Need You?

Photo by alexanderdrachmann via Flickr

The Los Angeles Clippers have said they want center DeAndre Jordan back, and now they know the price. The Golden State Warriors are expected on Sunday to sign Jordan to an offer sheet worth $40 million over four years, per Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area. The Clippers would have three days to match the offer sheet for the restricted free agent.

Via Eric Stephen, SBNation Los Angeles

We now know the value of DeAndre Jordan. Whether it’s too high or too low depends on your position. In my view, DeAndre is a tantalizing prospect capable of wreaking interior havoc for opponents on defense via blocked shots and offense via soaring alley-oops and putback dunks. Potentially seeing him and Blake Griffin fly across the court for the next few years  is going to be exciting.

However, we’re talking about potential with Jordan. So far he has not proven to be worth $10 million a year. This is a contract based on a rosy what-if. DeAndre hasn’t shown tremendous or significant improvement in his three-year career. What he has done is maintain his per-minute production while playing longer. Don’t get me wrong, that is a good thing. Some players when given more court time reveal themselves to have been a product of playing in garbage time or against inferior 2nd units.

What is troubling about Jordan’s current stagnation is his foul rate. It can cap his effectiveness for the Clippers or Warriors. Last season, he possessed the 16th highest foul rate per 36 minutes among players who qualified for the MPG lead in the NBA. Being a terrorizing defender is hard to do when a) you’re watching from the bench because of foul trouble or b) timidly challenging shots to stay out of foul trouble. Patrolling the paint and protecting the rim is a fine line to tow.

At only 23 years old, Jordan still is growing and obtaining the on-court knowledge to handle the challenge. Ultimately, you hope that Jordan learns to make the prudent defensive move given the specifics of the play. Not every shot needs to be blocked or aggressively challenged. Sometimes the offensive player beats you and you must back away, living to block another day instead of swooping in for a futile block attempt that leads to a foul. He probably won’t attain Dwight Howard’s defensive level of domination, but Howard didn’t exactly step into the league as its finest defender either. It took time for Dwight to grow into his current dominance.

Independent of DeAndre is the wider culture of Clipper-land. Rejecting the $40 million price tag on Jordan is a defensible move, but these are the Clippers. Given their history, perception would be that they’ve once again pulled back from genuinely trying to build a contender. For the sake of reversing decades of self-imposed futility and building toward retaining Blake Griffin, matching Jordan’s offer is the right, solid choice.

 [flash www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YN3nrUH5ow w=600 h=400]

(big h/t to dorell15 for the film and to Michael Henderson for the funky music)

UPDATE *sound of needle scratch on vinyl LP*

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/KBergCBS/status/146010876951015424″]

Nope, I can’t endorse it anymore. I was on the fence, but that extra $3 million just ruined it for me. Make do with Kaman, Clippers. This deal just went from solidly palatable to unacceptable.

Seth Carstens