If DeAndre Jordan wants to reach his full potential for a playoff team, he needs to come to Dallas.
The big man will hear some version of that message during his Wednesday morning meeting with the Dallas Mavericks' recruiting contingent of owner Mark Cuban, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle and small forward Chandler Parsons.
Put simply, the Mavs believe Jordan will be a perennial All-Star and the NBA’s next dominant center if he moves to Dallas. Their mission is to get him to buy into that vision.
Jordan wants a bigger role after being the third wheel – and fourth or fifth offensive option – for the Los Angeles Clippers, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports. That must be music to the Mavs’ ears as they prepare to make a pitch based in part on their desire for the freakishly athletic center to be a focal point in Dallas.
That strategy wouldn’t make sense for the Clippers as long as they suit up superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The Mavs, on the other hand, envision Jordan as a primary option in a lot of their offensive sets as Parsons’ pick-and-roll partner.
While the Mavs are optimistic about being able to develop the 26-year-old Jordan’s offensive game, this isn’t about making him another Hakeem Olajuwon with an assortment of post moves. It’s about maximizing his ability to finish above the rim -- something Jordan already does as well as anybody in the NBA.
The Mavs’ plan is to surround Jordan and Parsons with shooters to create space for that pair to work. That’s why a 3-point threat at shooting guard, such as Wesley Matthews or Danny Green, would be the Mavs’ next priority if they get a yes from Jordan. They already have the premier stretch power forward in NBA history on the roster.
How many power forwards do you think will tag Jordan on pick-and-rolls with Dirk Nowitzki spotting up on the weak side? As sensational as Griffin is, he simply doesn’t create that kind of a space for a center to wreak havoc above the rim. After all, Griffin has made a grand total of 36 3-pointers in his five-year career. Nowitzki knocks down more than that before New Year’s every season.
Nowitzki would have no problem sliding into a complementary role for the last couple years of his career. He’s a selfless superstar who has already started that transition, understanding that his ability to space the floor is his greatest value during his golden years.
Griffin is a bonafide superstar in his prime who needs to be a go-to guy at this point in his career. Continuing to play with him, the Mavs can argue, puts an artificial cap on Jordan’s offensive potential.
The Mavs can point to the 15-game stretch that Griffin missed last season as proof. Jordan averaged 14.9 points in those games, a healthy boost from his career-high scoring average of 11.5 points last season. The Mavs see that span as just a taste for Jordan if he’s more involved offensively, believing he’s capable of putting up the kind of numbers that would put his name in conversations about the NBA’s best big man.
The Clippers might counter that Jordan needs an elite point guard to be at his best, although emphasizing Paul in their recruiting pitch would be risky, considering the widespread reports of their strained relationship. But the Mavs certainly can’t claim to have an All-Star-caliber point guard on the roster or in the immediate plans.
Yet the Mavs could note that Dallas, not Lob City, led the league in alley-oops before the Rajon Rondo trade blew up in their faces and screwed up their offensive spacing. And that was with the ground-bound big German, not the Kia-clearing Griffin, playing power forward.
Jordan’s desire for a four-year deal that would allow him to opt out after the third season, as reported by Broussard, is also good news for the Mavs. That eliminates the Clippers’ financial advantage in negotiations. With no state income tax in Texas, Jordan would actually make significantly more money in Dallas than L.A. despite the Clippers being able to give him 3-percent-larger annual raises.
The money will not be a problem for the Mavs. They must convince Jordan that they offer a better basketball fit in Dallas, that he’ll flourish in Carlisle’s flow offense and that he can be a franchise cornerstone for a contender.
The Mavs believe in Jordan’s potential for greatness. The goal now is to get the big man to buy it.