Let’s be crystal clear… the Los Angeles Clippers re-signing center DeAndre Jordan is not optional. What’s left after understanding there’s a lack of alternative, is the question of what DeAndre Jordan is worth to the Clippers.
The answer is directly related to Jordan’s extension or new contract. Specifically the size of it.After a breakout year, Jordan is in the last year of a contract that will pay him $11,440,124. It’s debatable as to what Jordan did in his first three years in the league that netted him a pay raise from $854,389 to just more than $10 million.
Still, Jordan deserves an extension. At the end of next season he will have deposited more than $33 million of the Clippers pesos, while only truly earning a third of the sum on the hardwood.
There was a time when the Clippers were unsure in their ability to retain All-Star forward Blake Griffin. Former head coach Vinny Del Negro and former general manager Neil Olshey’s No. 1 priority was keeping Griffin in a Clippers uniform.
That effort might’ve awarded Jordan buddy pay, or perhaps Del Negro and Olshey were visionaries. Certainly the Clippers have been better off with Jordan on their roster.
The possibility of squaring off against him four times a year in a Golden State Warriors uniform wasn’t ideal. Jordan was offered a four-year, $43 million contract which the Clippers matched.
Whether his (at the time) overpaid contract was the result of hardwood nepotism, an attempt on driving up the Clippers cap space by the Warriors or simply the business of the Clippers retaining one of their most talented free agents, he’s now an important link in the Clippers chain. The maximum starting salary for Jordan’s extension (per CBA rules) will be 107.5 percent of his 2013-14 salary, which will equate to $12,298,132 for the 2015-16 season.
That could be a championship impediment for the Clippers or a bounty to secure the type of supreme defender most NBA teams would chomp at the bit to employ. As it stands the Clippers will have $57 million in dedicated salary when Jordan becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Signing him to a max extension will push the Clippers well over the cap, if the club decides to make the salary of Jamal Crawford ($5,675,000) guaranteed, and Matt Barnes opts into the last year of his contract ($3,542,500). The Clippers can also create a bit of wiggle room by declining to exercise the first of two team options on small forward Reggie Bullock ($1,252,440) and encouraging Jordan Farmar to opt out of his the last year of his contract worth $2,170,465.
Either way you slice it, Jordan’s extension will be responsible for a large chunk of the Clippers cap.
A short memory is a quality most executives hope to find in their star’s repertoire. They want to see an ability to airball a free throw on one play and thunder home a bullyish dunk on the next possession. It’s a quality the Clippers front office won’t need when deciding on what to offer Jordan. From owner down to head coach, the Clippers will have totally different leadership. It’s not as if Jordan will need a clean slate; however, the matter of being overpaid three out of his four previous seasons won’t be an issue.
To be simple, one the best ways to measure Jordan’s worth is to compare him to other big men and derive the median salary. It’s highly likely there will be some team that’s willing to overpay for Jordan.
That could leave the Clippers no other option but to pay his full freight. Glancing over his stats from the 2013-14 season shows that not only did Jordan’s game finally catch up to the size of his current contract, he’s worthy of similar dollars in the future.
Even if it places the Clippers cap situation in a stranglehold.
Jordan finished third in defensive win shares in the regular season with only Paul George ($13,701,250) and Joakim Noah ($12.2 million) ahead of him. Jordan was also first in field goal percentage (.676) and came in second in blocks (203).
Only one player finished ahead of him in blocks, as Serge Ibaka ($12.35 million) has led the league in blocked shots four out of his five seasons in the NBA. Jordan also finished second in total offensive rebounds collected (331) and first in defensive rebounds (783).
It was the first year Jordan was in the top 10 of defensive efficiency, which resulted in finishing third in voting for Defensive Player of the Year. He received 121 votes, placing him behind Roy Hibbert ($14,898,938) and Noah.
The average salary of the aforementioned equals $13,287,547, which suggests the Clippers will save close to $1 million off the going rate of what a forward of his caliber and rate of production should earn. His offensive limitations should drive that price tag down a bit.
Jordan isn’t very reliable in the low post or from the free throw line (42.5 career percentage), so his usefulness resides primarily on the defensive end. On the high end, that’s worth close to $8 million.
Undoubtedly Jordan will make more. Hopefully the Clippers will get to Jordan before his first taste of free agency. Extending him during the season alleviates the headache of competing teams trying to secure his services or jacking the price up to prevent the Clippers from acquiring other talented free agents.
In the event that Jordan waits until next summer to re-sign, the Clippers could give him the maximum salary of 30 percent of the cap. Hard numbers for any player to pass up.
With max salaries dedicated to Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, a third max deal could damage the Clippers quest for a first championship. This time around, the Clippers will seek to pay Jordan what he’s worth — no strings attached.