After being given more than a fair shot at not just a spot in the rotation but a spot in the starting lineup, DeAndre Jordan was moved to the bench as the Lakers went smaller, allowing Anthony Davis more minutes at center. It’s a move that has been a long time coming this season but one that could have created a rift given Jordan signing with the Lakers this summer after being bought out from the Pistons and signing in Los Angeles presumably with the expectation of playing.
Jordan had a rare appearance in the rotation on Friday — his first action in three games — after Anthony Davis missed the contest against the Thunder with knee soreness, playing 11 minutes in the victory. After the contest, Jordan addressed being taken out of the rotation and his reaction to it.
“At the end of the day, I’m a professional,” Jordan said. “So whenever I am called upon, I’m gonna try and be ready as best as I can, and when I’m not called on I’ll be there to cheer my teammates on and kind of give pointers wherever I see fit and just be ready. When Dwight is in there and he’s playing well, I’m giving him tips, I’m cheering him on, I’m doing whatever I need to be doing to make sure that our team has that right energy to be going (the right way).
“And I think somebody else who does an amazing job is ‘Do (Rajon Rondo). He’ll be called on in the middle of the third quarter to go in a game, and he’s a little bit older than me and he’s ready to go at all times. He’s the first person up. I don’t even think he sits down during games, I don’t know how. But that’s the type of leadership and energy that we’re going to have and need from guys 1-15. Especially when you’re in and out of the lineup.”
It’d be hard to make an argument that Jordan did not receive his fair shake this season. Jordan appeared in 21 games this season but sports a net rating of -7.0. Even more, the Lakers have a net rating of +0.8 when Jordan is off the court this season as well.
Now, Jordan’s impact on the team — assuming full health of Davis — will be measured in mentorship fist pumps on the bench. Jokes aside, Jordan has been nothing but willing to take a role out of the rotation if required. At the tail end of his career, this role will likely be the only way Jordan extends his career.
There are some questions about how useful this role is on a veteran-laden roster in the long term. With the roster already full and the team almost certainly looking to make additions to the roster in the buyout market, Jordan’s spot could be the one sacrificed. For now, though, it’s encouraging to see him open to accepting a backseat role to help the team pick up victories in the short term.