It turned out that it didn’t matter, as Jordan changed his mind several days later, opting to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and leaving the Mavs scrambling to fill a massive hole in the middle of their starting lineup.
A transcript of Parsons’ interview with ESPN.com the day after Jordan made a decision that devastated Dallas’ immediate and long-term plans:
What is your reaction to DeAndre Jordan’s decision to back out of his commitment and return to the Clippers?
Parsons: “I’m shocked, very disappointed, frustrated, disrespected. This is something that I’ve never seen in my career, and I know that it doesn’t happen very often. When a man gives you his word and an organization his word, especially when that organization put in so much effort and I walked him through this process and was very, very open and willing to work with him, it’s just very unethical and disrespectful.”
When did you first find out that Jordan was considering going back to the Clippers?
Parsons: “I had talked to him every day. … I had no idea until Mark called me Monday and said he thought DeAndre was getting cold feet, which is normal for this process. It’s a big decision. You’re always going to have second thoughts and wonder if I made the right decision. Everything, all those thoughts are going to go through your mind. I had the same thoughts last year when I had to go ahead and sign with Dallas and have a chance to leave Houston, but never once in my life would I consider turning on an entire organization and city and going back and backtracking. I didn’t know that and I finally heard from him telling me that he was going to meet with them again.”
Is there anything the Mavs or you should have done differently during this process?
Parsons: “No chance. We did everything we can. We put it all out in front of him. There is nothing more that we could have physically, emotionally, possibly done to make him feel more comfortable and to make him stay and sign with Dallas. I guess maybe I could have stayed with him in L.A. or Houston and held his hand throughout the entire process, but I didn’t think that ever I would have to do something like that.”
Why do you think he changed his mind?
Parsons: “It’s a lot of pressure. Maybe he got nerves about being a franchise player and having the pressure of leading a team. He’s very comfortable in L.A. He can play behind Chris Paul, play behind Blake Griffin. That’s what I thought he didn’t want. Throughout the process, that’s what he told me he didn’t want. He wanted to take the next step in his career. He wanted to be the man on his team and build something special.
“That’s why I was so into this, because it’s the same thing I want. It’s the same exact reasons I left Houston. That’s why I thought he was going to leave L.A. He was tired of being in the shadows. He wanted a bigger role. He wanted the attention he deserves, which is why it’s so mind-blowing, because he’s going back to the same exact thing that he wanted to leave for the last couple of weeks.”
Will your friendship with Jordan survive this?
Parsons: “Um, you know, it’s … He’s a good dude and I am friends with him. We did develop a really good relationship and we got close over the last few weeks. I just think the decision was much bigger than that. It was something that he wasn’t ready to handle.
“He’s complacent in L.A., and I think that was a safer bet than for him to make a big decision and branch off and go do his own thing. He was probably nervous. He was probably scared. I don’t know because I haven’t talked to him. He’s a good dude. I don’t think he’s a bad person for this. I think he’s just confused. This decision was just way too big for him and he wasn’t ready to be a franchise player.”
Where do the Mavs go from here?
Parsons: “That’s the worst part. He put our entire franchise and our team in a really, really tough spot. We put all our eggs in the DeAndre Jordan basket and we had a commit from him. We had a man’s word that he was going to come here. Then we signed Wes Matthews and we had myself, we had three key building blocks for the future that are young going forward.
“Every day since he committed and every day before he committed, guys were coming off the board. It’s slim pickings now. That’s the hardest part. I can put my friendship aside with him for a minute, but this is my career that we’re talking about. This is my organization and my team and my city that we’re talking about that he put in jeopardy by doing this.”
How often did you talk to Jordan from the time he had his commitment until the time he signed with the Clippers?
Parsons: “Every day. This is what I do. I recruited him extremely hard, but it wasn’t hard. Everything I told him was true -- him being an MVP candidate, him being a perennial All-Star, him being the best center in the NBA. That would all be possible with him in Dallas with the opportunity that we were going to give him, so I continued to tell him that every single day.
“I could tell it was getting a little silent. He was getting a little standoffish. It wasn’t the same type of conversation that we were having ever since the media and Cuban heard that he was getting cold feet. Obviously we now know that that was true and he’s going back to L.A., but I was definitely taken off guard. I never thought in a million years that this would happen.”
How long did he shut down communication with you on Wednesday? What was running through your mind during that time?
Parsons: “Yeah, he was very randomly responding to me, but he was not responding to Mark at all, which in my eyes is very unprofessional. An owner that bent over backwards, did whatever you said throughout this process and was giving you a chance to be great, I don’t know how you shut him out and close the door on him when he’s in your city and just wanting to meet with you and get a face-to-face with you like you said that you were going to and just completely ignoring you, I don’t know how he did that.
“The kind of guy that he is, the kind of guy I thought he is, would never do something like that. That’s tough for me to swallow, just from the fact that I know how excited Mark was. I know how invested Mark has been throughout this whole process. That’s what I don’t get.
“Be a professional. Pick up the phone. If you’re not going to meet with him, pick up the phone and tell the guy that you’re committed to what you’re feeling, what you’re going through and maybe he can talk it out and help you. But do not ignore the guy. Do not make him sit there and sweat it out. That’s just very unprofessional. I can’t get over that part.”
Are you more disappointed from a personal or professional standpoint?
Parsons: “Listen, this isn’t personal between me and him. I was just recruiting DeAndre Jordan to come to my team because I think that he’s a really good player and I think he could have been the [NBA’s] best center in Dallas with the players that we have and the system that we have. I think he could have been great.
“Personally, I’m OK. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about next season. We had a chance to be really good. We went with DeAndre Jordan, and now we have no other options because he decided to change his mind at the last second. This has nothing to do with me being hurt with how he decided to go back to the Clippers. It’s bigger than that.
“He put our team in jeopardy. Everything we’ve done this summer has been surrounded by him, and then at the last second, he’s going to do that. That’s what I’m upset with.”
Did Jordan make a mistake? Was this the wrong decision for him?
Parsons: “You never know. We’re going to have to play it out. I think he’s a really good player and will continue to be a really good player in L.A. and they’ll have a really good team. It’s tough to say it’s a mistake, because he’s been in that situation. He played on the team last year and he’s had a good career there. So I wouldn’t say it’s a mistake that he went back. I just think for what he wanted and what he was telling us through the whole process, he’s not going to get that in L.A.”
Was this a bad gamble for the Mavs or a risk worth taking given the potential reward?
Parsons: “This was a risk that we were willing to take, and I think it was worth taking. It’s not our fault. We did everything that we could. We had a verbal commitment from a grown-ass man. Like, there’s nothing else that we could have done. There’s nothing else that we could have said.
“This was a risk that we never thought would have been a risk looking back on it. We met, he went through the process, met with teams, that’s it. He committed to us. It’s over. I never thought this could ever be a risk and come down to this. Obviously, now it looks like that and we think, ‘Ah, man, shoulda done this, shoulda done that.’ He was our guy from jump and we made that clear to him. We were willing to take that risk.”
How long will it take the Mavs to overcome this?
Parsons: “It’s going to be tough. I’m not really sure what moves we’re going to make now or for this upcoming season. But look, every year there’s a lot of good free agents that are out there, and we have the best owner that’s going to go out there and aggressively pursue them just like we did this year. I’d rather have an owner like that that will take a chance, that will go after a DeAndre Jordan, that will go after a Rajon Rondo and be willing to take risks like this to be great and to be a championship contender. It just didn’t work out for us this time. I think everybody knows why.”
You felt you had a foundation in place with a dominant center you’d play with the rest of your career …
Parsons: “Let me cut you off there. Those were his words. Those were DeAndre Jordan’s words: ‘We’re going to retire together. Next place I go to, I’m going to retire in that city.’ So of course I thought that, because those were his words, not mine.”
OK, but you certainly felt like there was foundation in place throughout Dirk’s golden years and to the next era for the Mavs. At this point, do you still feel like the future is bright and that you’re part of the long-term future of this franchise?
Parsons: “I definitely do. I think this is my team. I think we have the best owner. We’ll get over this. We’ll move forward. If we struggle next year, so be it, but we will bounce back and we have a lot of hungry guys that we’ve signed. We want guys like Wes Matthews on this team. He’s a man of his word. He’s tough. He’s exactly the type of character that we want in Dallas, so maybe this will be a blessing in disguise that it happened like this.
“We have a lot of cap space and we will have a lot of cap space next summer to go after the top guys, so I think the future’s bright. I know I’m going to do everything in my power to get healthy. I know Wes is going to do everything in his power to get healthy. We’re going to go down swinging, that’s for sure.”
Anything else you want to add?
Parsons: “He wasn’t ready for being a franchise player. He was scared. He was scared to take the next step in his career. There was no other reason other than that he was comfortable and he has friendships there. How you make a business decision like that is beyond me. How you ignore an owner like Mark who is in your hometown just waiting for a chance to talk to you is beyond me.
“I don’t think he made a mistake. I think he’ll be good in L.A. He’s got a good team, he’s got a great point guard, he’s got Blake, but I think he could have been a superstar in Dallas. He could have been the man in Dallas. Never in a million years did I think that this was even a possibility.
“I’ll still be friends with him, but I can’t get over the way that he’s put our entire franchise in jeopardy. It’s normal to get cold feet. It’s normal to get second thoughts, but you don’t back out of a commitment of this much magnitude this late in the game and just leave us high and dry.”