When Clippers executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank stood before the media late Thursday night to discuss the team buying its way into the NBA draft, he was forced to pivot toward the rumors about the team looking to trade center DeAndre Jordan.
Frank denied the Clippers had been shopping Jordan, even though several league executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said there were discussions about a deal for Jordan that went nowhere.
Frank went on to talk about the Clippers buying Milwaukee's second-round pick at No. 48 and then selecting South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell.
The Clippers also purchased another second-round pick from Philadelphia, choosing Oklahoma State point guard Jawun Evans at 39. However, the deal for Evans is not official and can't be announced until July 6, when the NBA's moratorium is lifted.
But the big news of the night was Frank saying the Clippers "never, ever dangled" Jordan "out there" in trade talks.
But according to one executive, the Clippers talked to the Pistons about swapping centers, Jordan for Detroit's Andre Drummond. But the executive said Detroit's owner nixed the deal because he wanted to keep Drummond.
The Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves also had discussions with the Clippers about Jordan, according to the executives, but none of the teams were willing to give up first-round draft picks.
"DeAndre is the cornerstone to what we do," Frank said. "And it's funny. If you track every rumor, literally every single player outside maybe the players on Golden State and LeBron [James], were mentioned. So, in the front office, what we've learned quickly is you can't dispel everything. We love DJ. DJ is going to be here for a long, long time as far as we're concerned."
Thornwell is a 6-foot-5 guard who led South Carolina to the Final Four. He averaged 14.7 points during his four-year career. The Clippers paid about $2.5 million to buy the pick from the Bucks to take Thornwell.
"What we identified early on is we wanted to add tough, competitive, hard-playing, high basketball-IQ players to complement our team," Frank said.