Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is typically calm and calculated. But Cuban cannot be that way when someone pulls a fast one on him. When free agency began in the NBA on July 1, Cuban made acquiring center DeAndre Jordan his top priority. In seven seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, Jordan has morphed into one of the NBA’s top rebounders and defenders. On July 3, Jordan and the Mavericks “verbally” agreed on a four-year deal that would be worth $80 million. Per NBA rules, new contracts could not be signed and made official until July 9 which paved the way for mass hysteria. Jordan began to have second thoughts about joining the Mavericks and yesterday a Clippers contingent that was led by team owner Steve Ballmer flew to Houston and went to Jordan’s home to meet with him. The Clippers vowed that they would not leave Houston without Jordan signing a contract to return to the team. Jordan did agree to re-join the Clippers and in the process spurned Cuban and the Mavericks.
Heading into this off-season the Mavericks had a clear game plan in order to once again become one of the NBA’s elite teams. Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki took less money on his current contract in order to allow the team cap flexibility to sign quality players such as Jordan. This off-season the Mavericks had their sights set on signing either Jordan or power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge did meet with the Mavs, but he would ultimately decide on joining the San Antonio Spurs. The Mavericks then used a full-court press on Jordan and they appeared to have their man in Jordan.
Jordan is now back with the Clippers as a result of a loophole in the NBA rules. Jordan gave his word to Cuban, but he never signed a legally binding contract with the Mavericks. And the time is now for NBA commissioner Adam Silver to change that. The NBA might not be able to prevent Jordan from going back to the Clippers, but something must be done by the league to ensure that something like this never happens again. Although players can give a “verbal” agreement to join a team, there should still be something in writing that officially takes that player off of the market. And the NBA has a situation where Cuban will more than likely become disgruntled and he has a right to be compensated by the league and the Clippers in some form or fashion. Cuban has been fined more than any other owner in the history of the NBA and in this instance he complied with the league’s rules on signing free agents and he has absolutely nothing to show for it.
The Clippers got their guy while the Mavericks got absolutely nothing and if Dallas had known that Jordan wasn’t going to join them, things would have been different in North Texas. After Jordan agreed to join the Mavericks, there was a domino effect as other quality big men such as Tyson Chandler and Robin Lopez signed with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks respectively and I am sure that Dallas would have been in play for either player.
To make matters worse over the past few days, Jordan never returned one of Cuban’s phone calls which is not the way to handle business. Cuban put the time and effort in for his sales pitch to Jordan who should have been man enough to speak to the billionaire face-to-face and tell him that he had a change of heart.
Jordan initially spurned the Clippers over his recurring problems with Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Paul was a part of Ballmer’s entourage that went to Houston to meet with Jordan. And at the meeting, Jordan’s agent Dan Fegan was not present as he allegedly “misled” Jordan into joining the Mavericks.
Jordan is a native of Houston, but at this point he might not be that welcome in his home state of Texas; especially Dallas. The Clippers and Mavericks have never really engaged in any kind of intense rivalry, but that will not be the case in the coming years as Mr Jordan is now public enemy number one in North Texas.