The Clippers gained a giant lure in their pursuit of DeAndre Jordan on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with Paul Pierce on a three-year, $10.5-million contract that will reunite the veteran small forward with Coach Doc Rivers.
Pierce and Rivers won an NBA title together with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and will almost surely try to pitch Jordan on their collective potential with the Clippers, who will get the last word in the bidding for the free-agent center Thursday.
The Clippers will sign the former Inglewood High star with their so-called mini-midlevel exception, their primary financial tool in free agency, and will likely slot him into the starting small forward spot vacated by Matt Barnes, who was traded last month.
Pierce, who turns 38 in October, is a 10-time All-Star who gives the Clippers some championship experience in their starting lineup and a clutch presence who hit a game-winning shot in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season for the Washington Wizards.
The only potential concern about Pierce is his durability; he averaged a career-low 26.2 minutes per game last season as well as a career-low 11.9 points per game. But the Clippers won’t need Pierce to carry much of the offensive load in a lineup that will include All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and, potentially, Jordan.
The Clippers will need to make their pitch to Jordan compelling after he was wowed by the Dallas Mavericks in a 2 1/2-hour pitch meeting Wednesday.
A person close to Jordan said the Mavericks “set the bar high” during a presentation attended by team owner Mark Cuban, President Donnie Nelson, Coach Rick Carlisle and stars Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons.
The Lakers are to meet with Jordan on Wednesday night and the New York Knicks are scheduled to make a presentation to the player who has become one of the NBA’s top rebounders and defenders on Thursday before the Clippers. Griffin and Paul are not expected to attend the Clippers’ pitch meeting, having spoken privately to Jordan about their desire for him to return to the only NBA team he has known in his seven professional seasons.