Normally around this time of year, I’m balls deep in analyzing Mike Minor’s strand rate for the Texas Rangers or bitching about the San Francisco Giants having the third-worse run differential in all of baseball. Sure, I’m also juggling this current free agency rodeo while simultaneously ignoring ALL THE GODDAMN rumors flying around NBA Twitter from neutered bots whose handles are @3873628boobz, @ImReallyNotKevinDurantLol, and @therealbradg.
But now you’ve done it.
You’ve brought DeAndre Jordan into the discussion.
That’s right – you know who you are, with your tedious little velleities and weird squints.
Okay – sure, all the bombastic chatter stems from NBA Twitter losing all their damn marbles in the time between the draft and the start of the chaotic FA while trolls seems to working overtime to send my liver into a tailspin. But nevertheless, to those few who are shouting “HEY, DEANDRE JORDAN IS A CATCH!” from Sutter’s freaking Fort, I have something to say: Lemme borrow your time machine because clearly I can use it for more useful purposes rather than heading back to 2015 in order to reminisce about this stupid butt picture.
On Monday afternoon, Marc Stein tweeted out that the Brooklyn Nets are showing interest in using Jordan as bait to lure Kevin Durant. That’s right: Bait.
The Nets are exploring the feasibility of signing Kevin Durant's close friend DeAndre Jordan in free agency, league sources say, in hopes that would make the prospect of teaming up in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving even more enticing to Durant— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 24, 2019
The Nets aren’t the only one in the hunt – the Los Angeles Lakers are also looking for a veteran to fill out their roster (according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst) and are eyeing Jordan because he MAY be landed for cheaper deal (Jordan apparently misses the scrumptious LA air that tastes like global warming and crippling depression).
I, for one, will welcome either of these moves with sappy Steve Perry lyrics. Why? Because as a Sacramento Kings fan who has been covering the Dallas Mavericks for the past six years, I’ve noticed that it’s the overlooked punctilious things that can make a locker room run smoothly. Those particles that can either sunder a close-knit group or make it stronger. Attitude on the court is a huge portion of it, but the attitude in the background can end up being the crux in the long run. And while there are those who may feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, PLUS (yay!) an added veteran presence, you may just be getting something entirely different altogether.
It’s like…and I know I’m going to get the pointy end of the sword here for making this pretentious jerk comparison here…thinking you’re going to hear Lucia di Lammermoor’s “Chi mi frena in tal momento” in its original Italian and then what creeps across the speed of sound is…Klingon.
Putting it in basketball terms? It’s like expecting Rajon Rondo in his prime and instead getting an angry badger tangled up in a wet garbage bag who is just seething in the corner of the locker room, hissing at everything (I’m only referring to Dallas Mavericks Rondo here - the one that probably made coach Rick Carlisle consider early retirement).
In 2018, DeAndre Jordan stepped into Mavericks’ world with a muted hum and galumph.
This was the place he had so vividly rejected by way of silence and other people’s Twitter emojis only three years prior during free agency, when he observed that very world with distaste and impertinence hidden behind a mask of guilt and Phil Collins, who provided the soundtrack to probably the best “will they or won’t they” pseudo rom-com game promo EVER TO EXIST (Angry Dirk Nowitzki? Constipated looking Mark Cuban? Chandler Parsons before his legs shattered like Humpty Dumpty? JORDAN MAKING GOOGLY EYES AT EVERYONE AS HE LOVES ON CHRIS PAUL? Yes please).
While the Dallas Mavericks seemed to quickly forget about that fateful period in the 2015 offseason when Jordan “forgot” he made a verbal commitment to and then straight up ghosted after a drunken night together (literally – Parsons and Cuban did tequila shots with you, man. TEQUILA SHOTS), Mavericks fans were skeptical.
However, it didn’t take long for them to shrug with a sense of amused satiety and put on those roseate shaded beer goggles. Forgotten were those banana boat and plane emojis, and now the man stood before them, happy and ready to go.
On Media Day, Jordan was suddenly a force of nature who introduced himself to the press in a very theatrical way:
The past was forgotten, the Mavericks future rested somewhere between optimism and semi apotheosis, especially when it came to the new shiny rookie they took in Luka Doncic combined with the big they coveted three years prior. Age is just a number, right?
His personality just seemed to fit.
The lightness and mirth he projected managed to engulf a majority of the press from day one. It was hard to dispute…
Until it wasn’t.
“Don’t be deceived by DeAndre Jordan’s solid statistics,” ESPN and regular Mavs locker room dweller Tim MacMahon said back in November of 2018. “He has been a major disappointment for the Mavs. He has rubbed teammates the wrong way with what they perceive as selfish play, the most blatant example being when he stole an uncontested rebound from Luka Doncic by putting his forearm in the prized rookie’s back and tipping the ball away. Jordan’s disinterest in playing defense has been a big problem as Mavs opponents light up the scoreboard.”
“I guess I’ve been poaching for the past 11 years,” he said to former Dallas Morning News writer (now with the Dallas Mavericks) Eddie Sefko. “I feel like every rebound that comes off is mine. So I am guilty of that. But honestly, when I’m going for the ball, I don’t really look for anybody else.”
The rookie even threw a knowing look back at the bench after the play went down, visibly upset.
Earlier in the season, Doncic had expressed slight budding hostility against Jordan, saying that the big “gets mad when I get rebounds.”
Around that same time period after a 117-102 loss to the Utah Jazz, The Salt Lake Tribune beat writer Andy Larsen took to Twitter in order to call out dead-fish-in-the-water actions on the court in a eye-opening eight-tweet thread, which recently started circulating again as FA gossip starts to heat up.
DeAndre Jordan straight up didn't try tonight, and the Mavericks should be upset with him (making $22.9M this year!). A quick thread of literally just him not caring in the first few minutes of the first quarter coming up (1/IDK, 7 or so)— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 8, 2018
It was in November that the locker room became divided. Not just when it came to the players and their Cersei Lannister side-eyes, but between the press and who said what about Jordan’s antics. Those who had been with the Mavericks media for a long period of time faced off against those who claimed to have friendly relationships with some of the players.
Shortly after the stentorian talk and actions went down, the Mavericks appeared to do an about-face and go on to have a resurgence in their on-the-court performance, which was said to be because all their locker room issues were now out in the open…or, as Kevin Sherrington, a sports columnist for SportsDayDFW.com put it, “tolerable.”
But none of that mattered when on January 31, 2019, Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Dennis Smith Jr. were moved in a blockbuster and ball-breaking trade with the New York Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis.
Suddenly, just as quickly as DeAndre shook up and forgot about the Dallas locker room, he was gone.
Some people think DeAndre Jordan would be a good fit in Sacramento.
Some people think DeAndre Jordan would be a good fit with this town’s young core, one that includes De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III, Buddy Hield, and PERHAPS, Jordan’s former teammate and someone who not only shared a court with Jordan but also a locker room, Harrison Barnes.
Some people think DeAndre Jordan would be an adequate replacement for Willie Cauley-Stein, whose agent just released a plea to allow his client to move on and become an unrestricted free agent.
Some people think DeAndre Jordan will fit in with these young guys and not attempt to mess up their flow – that rebound stealing won’t cause friction (because, hey, they’re rebounds right?) between teammates?
I’m telling you, as someone who has stood in the middle of a locker room stare-down between veterans and rookies in a space that included Dirk Nowitzki, a calm NBA mediator in his own right, don’t do it.
Manners apparently maketh man, and in the end, after proving it twice in four years, manners is something that DeAndre lacks when it comes to teammates - especially young ones on the verge of pure stardom.