The Los Angeles Lakers will be one of just four teams to have an opportunity to convince Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to sign with them in free agency, according to a report from Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. The Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks will join the Lakers in their pursuit of Jordan.
While the Clippers can offer Jordan more money and years on his deal than anyone else, there are some things that could prevent him from returning. According to the report Jordan has his sights set on becoming an All-Star, and is concerned that won't be possible playing alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. There have also been rumors of a growing rift between Jordan and Paul, which doesn't help the Clippers cause.
Milwaukee can offer the chance to play alongside talented young players like Michael Carter-Willian, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jabari Parker. They also have the benefit of being in the weaker Eastern Conference, where Jordan may find it easier to reach his goal of becoming an All-Star and would also face much less resistance in the playoffs.
Dallas would be an interesting suitor as well, as Jordan would slot in perfectly next to an aging Dirk Nowitzki as a replacement for free agent center Tyson Chandler. Signing with Dallas would also allow Jordan to return to his home state of Texas. However, aside from Chandler Parsons, the Mavs don't offer much in the way of young talent which could be a significant drawback in the brutal Western Conference. Parsons, who helped convince Dwight Howard to leave Los Angeles for Houston a few years ago, has been in Jordan's ear and is hoping for a similar outcome.
The Lakers just may be the most intriguing of all the options available. The purple and gold have a significant advantage in terms of fan base compared to the Clippers (and every other team in the league), which can play a big role in All-Star selections. Signing with the Lakers would also prevent Jordan from having to go through the process of uprooting his life and moving while still getting to spread his wings with a new organization.
On the court the Lakers seem to be a perfect fit for Jordan's skill set. Kobe Bryant is getting ready to ride off into the sunset, and the young new breed of Lakers players is preparing to take the reigns. The almost-27 year old Jordan would have a number of young, talented players to grow with, including Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and D'Angelo Russell. The passing skills of the Lakers trio of young talents would also seem to appeal to Jordan, who is a master at finishing lobs off the pick-and-roll.
By signing with the Lakers DeAndre Jordan would also get the exposure and attention that he craves while still being able to focus on doing what he does best: protecting the rim and dunking the ball. While his poor free-throw shooting is a concern, the Lakers could certainly live with it considering the massive upgrade that Jordan would bring elsewhere.
Selecting a crafty passer like Russell in the draft suggests that the Lakers are hoping to give the team more of a "Showtime" feel, and adding a lob partner of Jordan's caliber to the roster would go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. While the Lakers will have a number of other big men they target in free agency, including LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, and Marc Gasol, it can be argued that Jordan's combination of youth and rim protection makes him the best fit.
Free agency begins on July 1st, and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has promised to be aggressive. Buckle up, Lakers fans. The draft was just the beginning.
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