According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, veteran big man DeAndre Jordan is about to be a free agent:
The Los Angeles Lakers intend to waive DeAndre Jordan and sign free agent guard DJ Augustin, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Lakers are bringing in a veteran, accomplished shooting PG to back up Russell Westbrook.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 1, 2022
Not long after that report came out, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski followed up:
The 76ers have been in the market for a backup center and will be aggressive in pursuit of DeAndre Jordan — either placing a waiver claim or working to sign him as a free agent should he clear waivers, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 1, 2022
Wojnarowski later went on to go as far as saying the Sixers are the frontrunners to sign Jordan. As Bobby Marks noted shortly after Wojnarowski’s report, there are some complicating financial factors in attracting Jordan to Philadelphia:
Philadelphia currently has a $13.19M tax bill.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 1, 2022
Below are the tax ramifications of claiming his $1.66M cap hit vs. waiting and signing to a prorated veteran minimum.
Waiver claim: $16.1M
Vet minimum: $13.8M
$2.3M difference https://t.co/mlIWUeqBEy
From a basketball perspective, there are personnel in Philadelphia that previously had relationships with the 33-year-old big man. Doc Rivers was part of the contingent of Clippers personnel that famously convinced Jordan to re-sign with Los Angeles by locking him in his own house until he agreed to return. Beyond that, new acquisition James Harden played with Jordan last season in Brooklyn.
The dysfunctional Los Angeles Lakers deciding to cut Jordan doesn’t bode well for his perceived value or viability on a basketball court. But, you could counter that argument. The Lakers’ list of roster blunders over the last year is so extensive that perhaps their waiver is not a strong barometer of what Jordan can do.
The Sixers’ interest in Jordan represents a calculus that their braintrust has communicated on more than one occasion. In his interview on The Mike Missanelli Show weeks ago, Daryl Morey stated that Joel Embiid was playing so well that Philadelphia could expand the pool of acceptable returns for Ben Simmons. It’s anyone’s best guess as to whether that was a true sentiment or just gamesmanship as they positioned themselves for James Harden. They certainly didn’t follow that calculus, seeing as they ended up with a top-10 player.
Still, that line of thought applies here. The Sixers might conclude that Harden is such a magician with the ball in his hands that he’ll make any screen-and-dive big look adequate. Jordan was a co-star on Rivers’ “Lob” Angeles Clippers teams. In his younger days, Jordan was one of the best lob threats in the league. But, that was then. Jordan left the Clippers a few years back and has bounced around the league ever since. The Nets brought him in on an inflated deal to appease Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They then traded Jordan approximately two years into that contract.
That’s two consecutive flame-outs for the veteran center. And despite my interpretation of the Sixers’ thinking, Brooklyn’s lineups featuring Harden and Jordan weren’t effective. They were outscored by .6 points per 100 possessions in 651 minutes together last season.
Jordan represents the intersection between two axis. One axis is the traditional big that fit so seamlessly next to Harden in the past. The other axis is the veteran that Rivers favors in his rotations. Of course, perhaps the most common criticism of Rivers is his tendency to be so hard-nosed in favoring veterans when they’re clearly ill-fit to play. Many would opine that the Sixers already have two lob threats on the roster — rookie Charles Bassey and second-year big Paul Reed.
Still, Rivers favored Dwight Howard over Tony Bradley Jr. and Reed last season. He favored Andre Drummond (who mostly played quite well for the Sixers) in his bad games over Bassey and Reed this season. Paul Millsap has had the upper hand in getting the backup minutes over Bassey and Reed since being traded to Philadelphia in the Harden deal. Although, the early returns indicate why he was out of the rotation in Brooklyn.
The writing seems to be on the wall for Reed. 4 bigs have been ahead of him in the rotation through almost two full seasons of his career. Rivers may see him as more of a raw power forward who needs to clean some things up before he’s worthy of minutes. If not that, Reed’s future with the Sixers appears unclear at best. Regardless, there is a valid case to make that the younger Bassey and Reed can do anything the Sixers would want Jordan to do next to Harden. The only thing they can’t do is make themselves older and more experienced.
In Jordan’s prime, he was one of the league’s best rebounders and defenders, capturing 3 All-NBA honors. He’s well removed from those years. But, perhaps there’s something left in his tank. At the end of the day, you’re only asking him for 10 minutes per game in the playoffs.
The other part to consider is whether Jordan would be interested in coming to Philadelphia. But, you don’t have to go too deep in your research to form an educated guess:
#Mavs’ DeAndre Jordan on Doc Rivers saying #Clippers should retire his jersey first – “That’s humbling. It’s no secret that Doc is my favorite. I love Doc, he’s a big reason for a lot of the success I’ve had in this league. For him to say something like that, that’s pretty cool.” pic.twitter.com/sHwBM7cgpp— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) December 21, 2018