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DeAndre Jordan is set to re-sign with the Clippers

A Clippers contingent of players and executives intended to stay at the Houston home of DeAndre Jordan until the highly coveted free-agent center can sign with the team after midnight Eastern time Thursday, one NBA executive said.

By staying with Jordan, the Clippers would presumably stave off any last-minute attempts of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to persuade Jordan to fulfill his pledge to sign with the Mavericks.

“Everything is positive,” one league executive said of the Clippers’ pursuit of Jordan, adding the team expected him to re-sign with the Clippers.

Cuban late Wednesday told some Mavericks employees that Jordan is returning to the Clippers.

Jordan committed to signing a four-year, $80-million contact with Dallas on Friday, but any commitment is not binding until Jordan actually signs with a team.

The strange sequence was triggered by Jordan expressing second thoughts about signing with the Mavericks to Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who was among a contingent of team players and executives who met with Jordan in an effort to get him to renege on his commitment to Dallas.

The Clippers’ traveling party included Rivers, team owner Steve Ballmer and players Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce. Paul, whose strained relationship with Jordan contributed to Jordan’s initial decision to leave the Clippers, re-routed his itinerary to make the meeting after concluding a vacation in the Bahamas.

There are no formal NBA rules against players backing out of commitments, but it is widely discouraged because it disrupts plans made by teams throughout the league.

Dallas has been famously spurned during free agency before. Point guard Jason Kidd backed out of a commitment to re-sign wiith the Mavericks in 2013 to play for the New York Knicks. Other players who reneged on commitments included Carlos Boozer, who spurned the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Utah Jazz in 2004, and forward Hedo Turkoglu, who backed out of a commitment to the Portland Trail Blazers to sign with the Toronto Raptors in 2009.

The Clippers had long made it clear that keeping Jordan, the All-NBA third team center and a member of the league’s first team defense, would be the focus of their free-agency plans. They appeared to have increased their odds of retaining him after trading for Lance Stephenson and agreeing to sign Pierce, a veteran small forward with championship pedigree.

Clippers players did not attend their team’s first pitch meeting with Jordan, having made their desire for him to re-sign known individually. But they were using nearly all modes of transportation to reach Houston on Wednesday.

The Mavericks' Chandler Parsons touched off a Twitter war of emojis when he tweeted one of an airplane, suggesting he was en route to meet with Jordan. That prompted J.J. Redick to respond witi a car emoji because he could presumably have driven to Houston from his home in Austin, Texas.

Things were just starting to get creative. Griffin, who was returning from a Hawaiian vacation, tweeted emojis of an airplane, a helicopter and a car. Paul joined the fun when he tweeted emojis of a banana and a boat, a reference to the banana boat he rode this week in the Bahamas. Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson weighed in with a swimming emoji and Pierce, who at 37 was apparently unsure how to attach an emoji, instead inserted a picture of a rocket ship.

Dallas had initially impressed Jordan with its relentless pursuit as well as plans to make him a focal point of its offense. One league executive said the Clippers were not happy the Mavericks were granted a dinner with Jordan in addition to a formal pitch meeting once the free-agency process started last week.

But Jordan never commented publicly since making his initial pledge to play for the Mavericks even as Cuban drew a $25,000 fine from the NBA for saying he envisioned Jordan being “Shaq-like” with his new team.

Jordan’s Twitter profile still shows a picture of him dunking in a Clippers jersey. There remained a chance he could do so again.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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