DeAndre Jordan opts out of contract with the Clippers, enters free agency

Los Angeles Clippers v Indiana Pacers

A few days ago, the Los Angeles Clippers made a very strategic trade.

Sending away coach’s son Austin Rivers in exchange for Washington Wizards veteran Marcin Gortat, Los Angeles gained security at the center position.

Since DeAndre Jordan had the decision to opt out of the final year of his contract, Gortat would be a realistic replacement if the three-time All-NBA selection decided to take his talents elsewhere.

The NBA’s free agency period begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday.

However, Jordan had until 11:59 p.m. ET Friday to make a decision on whether to exercise the $24.1 million option. He nearly took up the entire time, but announced his choice a few hours before the deadline.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Jordan, who averaged 12.0 points and 15.2 rebounds for the Clippers last season, opted out of his deal and will therefore become an unrestricted free agent.

He already has a destination in mind, too.

His presumed landing spot

Despite his history with the Dallas Mavericks, it appears as though they’re the presumed landing spot for the big man.

According to Woj, “both sides are well past Jordan's change of heart on a Dallas free-agency commitment in 2015 and prepared to partner together, league sources said.”

Jordan’s desire to join the Mavericks was probably why it took so long for him to opt out. It appears as though he was waiting for a sign-and-trade to go through.

“In recent days, the Clippers and Mavericks were unable to come to terms on a sign-and-trade agreement to move Jordan to Dallas, but the Mavericks have $27 million in salary-cap space -- and the ability to create more -- to sign Jordan and possibly add more in free agency,” Wojnarowski reported.

In order to create more cap space, the Mavs declined Dirk Nowitzki’s $5 million team option on Friday. That was seemingly done solely in order to accommodate Jordan’s proposed salary.

If he does indeed sign with Dallas, it will create a firestorm on social media. As you probably recall, he agreed to a four-year deal with the Mavericks in the summer of 2015, but then was coerced to re-sign with the Clippers by Chris Paul and coach Doc Rivers at his home in Houston (labeled a "kidnapping" at the time). 

As a result, Mavericks fans booed him extra-loud when he played in Dallas and team owner Mark Cuban publicly explained his side of the story, showing clear disappointment. However, now it makes sense for both sides to come together.

With Dennis Smith Jr. entering his second year, veterans Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews signed through next season, Nowitzki still able to perform at 40-plus years old (after he’s re-signed) and the team’s move to trade up for international star Luka Doncic, Jordan could be a crucial piece on a potential playoff-bound squad next season.

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