It feels increasingly unlikely that DeAndre Jordan will finish this season with the Los Angeles Clippers.
He turns 30 in July, at which time he’ll be up for a new contract (player option). Injuries have essentially torpedoed the Clippers’ playoff hopes this season. People are merely waiting for them to stage a miniature teardown that begins with flipping Jordan for whatever picks and prospects they can obtain.
Except, the Clippers don’t necessarily share that sense of urgency. While they’re listening to all incoming proposals for the big man, they’re not sussing out offers on their own, according to USA Today‘s Sam Amick:
Will they trade Jordan as a way of retooling the roster while also ensuring they don’t lose him for nothing this summer in free agency, when he can opt out of his deal?
It’s entirely possible, especially if contenders like the Cleveland Cavaliers deem Jordan a missing piece to their title hopes (the Cavs, don’t forget, have the 2018 Brooklyn first-round pick from the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade). The Clippers are listening to all incoming calls about Jordan but not making calls of their own. Their price will be high, as the prospect of re-signing him this summer (when league-wide salary cap space is limited) remains possible in their eyes. The activity could heat up come Dec. 15, the first date on which players who signed new deals last summer can be included in trades.
This could be posturing on the Clippers’ part. They’re already low on leverage, with Jordan set to explore free agency and the rest of the league smelling blood in the water during their recent 4-14 stretch. Playing hardball is a nice way, perhaps, of getting potential suitors to ever so slightly up the ante.
At the same time, the Clippers needn’t rush the process. They have more than two months before the February trade deadline. Expect talks to heat up closer to then, when the Clippers have a better handle on their health and standing in the West. At the very least, don’t expect Jordan to be moved before Dec. 15, or even Jan. 15, when free agents who signed contracts over the summer start becoming available.