Surprise! DeAndre Jordan is actually staying in Los Angeles. After agreeing to a four-year max deal with the Dallas Mavericks last week, Jordan has reversed course and is now sticking with the Los Angeles Clippers. What's the deal? We've got answers.
1. What's your reaction to Jordan's decision? (Emoji optional)
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com:. It's not illegal by NBA rules, it's not unprecedented in pro sports, it's just highly entertaining (as long as you're not a Mavs fan). It's a bad look for Jordan, but he'll be better off in the long run if he's happy instead of popular. The Clippers didn't get it right at first and appeared to lose DeAndre, then they got him back and lost favor in the eyes of people around the league. They'll be too busy breathing sighs of relief to notice.
Amin Elhassan, ESPN Insider: You know I'd be amiss if I didn't go with the world's most popular emoji:. Isn't this the most Clipper story ever? The players change, the coach, the GM, the owner, even the uniforms, but the Clippers will always be a circus. In the words of Cari Champion, Clips gon' Clip.
Tom Haberstroh, ESPN Insider: This is going to make for an epic 30 For 30 one day. Can that day be tomorrow? Please?
Tim MacMahon, ESPN.com: Shock. But just imagine how Chandler Parsons feels. He woke up Wednesday morning next to his supermodel girlfriend in Las Vegas after celebrating her birthday and him pulling off one of the best recruiting jobs in NBA history -- only to find out that the love of his basketball life was getting back with his ex. And Parsons didn't even get a chance to try to charm Jordan into changing his mind one more time.
Arash Markazi, ESPN.com: Shocked. Before free agency began, I felt Jordan was going to return to the Clippers. But once he committed to the Mavericks last week, like most people, I simply figured it was over in L.A. I always got the feeling he didn't want to leave this team and this city while talking to him this season and even briefly after the season, so his initial decision surprised me. But it looks like, in the end, he did what he had always wanted to do.
2. Where do the Mavericks go from here?
Adande: To Lotteryland (via some form of emoji transportation icon). But it's not as if they were going to be playing into June with Jordan. They might even be better off in the long term without max money tied up in someone who isn't a franchise player. The biggest blow from this is they won't have any momentum heading into next year's free agency -- when Dirk Nowitzki will be 38.
Elhassan: This is incredibly tough for Dallas to swallow. By waiting to the last second to change his mind, Jordan has put the Mavs in the uncomfortable position of having to scramble to find a replacement. They let Tyson Chandler walk, and they spent a ton of money on Wesley Matthews. They tailored everything around the idea of Jordan being there. Now? Well, let's just say Mark Cuban gave us his Plan B the other day: race to the bottom.
Haberstroh: To the bar. To therapy. To Vegas. Oh wait, the Vegas Summer League is around the corner? Things could get interesting in Sin City.
MacMahon: The best-case realistic scenario for the Mavs is that they go to the top half of the lottery. Remember, the first-round pick they owe the Boston Celtics from the disastrous Rajon Rondo deal is only top-seven protected. The Mavs have no real hope of picking through the scraps at center and finding a big man who gives them a legitimate chance of competing for a playoff spot in the loaded West. Might as well tell Wesley Matthews and Parsons to take their sweet time returning from major operations. This is the day that the rebuilding project officially begins in Dallas.
Markazi: That's what I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Jordan tells the Mavericks he's committing to them and they go about their business as if they have their franchise center locked up. Any Plan B or Plan C possibilities they had as alternatives are long gone. Not only does Dallas lose Jordan but they lost any hope of finding an adequate alternative to him.
3. Who's the biggest winner in Jordan's return to L.A.?
Adande: Twitter users. This will go down as one of the great days on the social media platform, not only for the twists and turns of Jordan's saga but for the emoji-fest sidebar it spawned. What began with a Parsons airplane emoji expanded so far there was a swimming emoji from Clippers assistant Mike Woodson and a goat from the Jordan Brand account. Blake Griffin won, from escalating the emoji wars to his "updates" from DeAndre's house.
Elhassan: Jordan, by far. He gets more money. He stays in a system that most benefits him, and lives in Los Angeles.
Haberstroh: Twitter advertisers. This saga was made for Twitter. I know for a fact that the Clippers' core at Jordan's house were refreshing Twitter just as maniacally as we were. And loving every second.
MacMahon: Chris Paul. He has a chance to compete for championships through his prime. And he won't be known as the guy who was such a jerk that DeAndre Jordan ditched the Clippers just so he wouldn't have to listen to him every day.
Markazi: Paul. His reputation was already taking a hit before Jordan's departure became official. He was being labeled in some circles as the reason Jordan left Los Angeles. After his hilarious banana boat emoji tweet heading into the meeting and Jordan's eventual return to the team, Paul's reputation is back intact.
4. Which team is better: Clippers with DJ or Mavs with DJ?
Adande: Clippers with DJ. Which was why their losing him was always going to be a better story than the Mavs getting him. The Clippers have the potential to be a top-four team in the West with Jordan. The Mavs weren't going to crack the top five with him.
Elhassan: Clippers with DJ, again by far. They were legitimately a title contender last season, but suffered from a lack of depth. The Mavs with DJ, on the other hand, are a flawed roster, with a gaping hole at point guard, an aging power forward and a question mark at shooting guard with Matthews' Achilles.
Haberstroh: Clippers. And it's not close. The Clippers have three likely future Hall of Famers in their starting lineup (two in their primes). The Mavs have one, and he's 37 years old.
MacMahon: Right now, it's the Clippers. No contest. The Mavs' contention was that their future -- and Jordan's -- would have been much brighter than the Clippers' with the big man in Dallas. We'll never know now. This might trump the Mavs' chances to defend their title if Tyson Chandler stayed as the biggest what-if in franchise history.
Markazi: The Clippers with Jordan are one of the top-five teams in the league. The Mavericks with Jordan were still looking at starting the playoffs on the road as a 5-8 seed in the West.
5. How will this impact the Western Conference race?
Adande: It keeps the Clippers in the game, but probably doesn't get them past the second round. Again. But the more significant moves were the Warriors retaining Draymond Green and the Spurs adding LaMarcus Aldridge and David West -- all with significantly less drama.
Elhassan: It still doesn't put the Clippers on the same level as the Warriors, Spurs and Thunder, but it saves them from falling into the muck of teams fighting for the last two playoff berths.
Haberstroh: The Clippers still have depth issues, but they will be back contending for the West crown. And the Mavs? I kinda feel sorry for Dirk Nowitzki. Leave money on the table for this? This?
MacMahon: The Clippers are legit contenders, just like they were last season. They would have had a hard time making the playoffs without Jordan. The Mavs have gone from being first-round fodder to hoping they get to hold on to their lottery ticket. Dallas isn't one of the West's 10 best teams.
Markazi: After a short hiatus, the Clippers are contenders again. Not only do they get Jordan back but picking up Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson have given them a solid offseason haul, which should put them in the thick of the race along with the Warriors, Spurs and Thunder.