DeAndre Jordan has backed out of a verbal agreement with the Dallas Mavericks to remain with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Jordan made the switch after a face-to-face meeting at his Houston home with a contingent of Clippers including Blake Griffin and Paul Pierce, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday night. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the NBA’s ban on public comments before players can sign contracts, starting at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday.
The Clippers announced Jordan’s deal late Wednesday night.
It was a surprising reversal for Jordan, the defensive pillar who agreed to a four-year, $80 million deal with the Mavericks last week.
The Mavericks and Jordan’s agents tried to reach him repeatedly while he met with the Clippers, but were unsuccessful. And Griffin sent out a tweet on Wednesday night with a picture of a chair underneath the handle of a door.
“Don’t agree with the furniture layout but I’m not an interior designer,” Griffin quipped.
The Clippers can offer a fifth year on a max contract at more than $100 million. They also can offer the familiarity of the only NBA team Jordan has ever played for, as well as a more talented roster featuring point guard Chris Paul and Griffin.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban was already in Houston to try to persuade Jordan to stick with his commitment to the Mavericks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The owner was so confident that he had landed Jordan that he went on a Dallas radio show this week and spoke about the role he would have in the Mavericks’ offense. Discussing the free agent before a contract was signed earned Cuban a $25,000 fine.
He lost a lot more on Wednesday.
Getting Jordan and shooting guard Wesley Matthews had the Mavericks hoping they could avoid a major rebuilding project and make one last run with aging star Dirk Nowitzki.
“We had the discussion that if we couldn’t get a serious free agent, whether it was one of the guys still out there or some of the guys who already went, then it was time to take a step back,” Cuban told KTCK-AM in Dallas on Sunday.
Jordan’s about-face also could lead to a debate about the effectiveness of the NBA’s moratorium in free agency.
The ban on signing deals for about a week and a half after the start of free agency was put into the labor agreement in an attempt to stop tampering, but instead has created the possibility of players having second thoughts.
Dallas lost point guard Jason Kidd to the New York Knicks in 2012 after he initially agreed to return to the Mavericks, who ended up missing the playoffs that season for the first time in 12 years.
Jordan has led the NBA in rebounding the past two years and is coming off career highs in scoring and rebounding at 11.5 points and 15.0 rebounds per game. He helped the Clippers get within a victory of the Western Conference finals for the first time, but a second-half collapse at home in Game 6 was followed by a loss in the deciding game at Houston.
Earlier this week, Clippers guard J.J. Redick said on Bleacher Report radio that the Clippers deserved an “F” in free agency after losing Jordan.
“We had one priority this summer, and that was to re-sign D.J., and we missed out on that,” Redick said. “So barring some miracle, (the) makeup of our team is completely different now.”
The unusual last-minute lobbying played out on Twitter with various players tweeting emojis with apparent references to traveling to Houston to meet with Jordan.
Dallas forward Chandler Parsons, who played a crucial role in getting the original commitment from Jordan, tweeted an emoji of an airplane. Griffin sent one with the same plane, plus a helicopter and a car. Clippers point guard Chris Paul had a tweet of a banana and a boat, apparently a joking reference to his recent vacation with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. Paul wasn’t with the Clippers for their first meeting with Jordan last week.
The barrage of tweets prompted Kobe Bryant to weigh in with “Emoji battle?” — and adding five trophies for his five titles with the Lakers. The Golden State Warriors, still less than a month removed from winning the NBA title, offered one showing a trophy.