After blowing a 3-1 lead to the Rockets, things do not get any easier for the Clippers. The organization is faced with the tough decision of whether DeAndre Jordan is a max player or not. This is the same position the Oklahoma City Thunder found themselves in with James Harden. Do you max the third best player on your team?
Doc Rivers has made it clear he wants Jordan back and since he makes all of the personnel decisions, you would think that Doc Rivers the GM will look out for Doc Rivers the coach. Rivers will need to decide if the Clippers can get to the next level with Jordan and a short bench. A max deal for Jordan would severely cripple the Clippers when it comes to adding additional pieces. This is the reality of the current CBA that the owners wanted so badly. It is harder and harder to keep a ‘Big Three’ and add the necessary pieces to go from a good team to a great team.
This, along with the report that Jordan and Paul don’t get along, is enough reason for the Clippers to offer Jordan a significant contract but not a max contract. Signing Jordan to the max will not get the Clippers over the top. They don’t have a draft pick nor do they have salary cap space if they give Jordan close to $109M.
Ask yourself, how much better does Jordan make the Clippers defensively? The Clippers are ranked 12th in defense giving up 106.4 points a game. With the exception of the Rockets, this goes against what we are seeing from the teams left in the playoffs. Cleveland was tied for first in opposition scoring. The Warriors and Hawks were third and fourth respectively. The Cavs, Hawks and Warriors were all is the top five in Opponent Field Goal Percentage. The Clippers were 11th.
If the Clippers want to be a championship caliber team and not just a playoff team, they need to maximize the assets they have. They can’t do this if Jordan gets the max deal. Let me emphasize, I’m not saying to let Jordan walk. What I am saying is the Clippers can’t max him out by default. They could have a championship caliber team by adding a couple of pieces but they also could be an average team by overvaluing one of their current pieces.
Doc Rivers the GM will need to save Doc Rivers the coach from making a catastrophic mistake. That’s what all good GM’s do.