Doc Rivers tapped into Hollywood in his pursuit of DeAndre Jordan, inviting Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx to a recent dinner with the unrestricted free agent at a swanky Malibu restaurant.
It was just the start of the drama surrounding Jordan's decision about where to spend next season.
Jordan, 26, has also been wooed by a star-laden cast, including the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony and the Dallas Mavericks' Chandler Parsons, each of whom has pitched the center on the idea of joining their respective teams.
The Clippers have made it clear that retaining Jordan will be their top priority once the NBA's free-agency period starts at 9:01 p.m. PDT on Tuesday. Rivers and team owner Steve Ballmer are among a contingent of Clippers officials scheduled to meet with Jordan on Thursday in the Beverly Hills office of his agents.
Their presentation is expected to include a video touting Jordan's career with the Clippers and the benefits of staying with the only NBA franchise he has known in his seven professional seasons.
It will hardly be the only pitch Jordan will hear this week. He is also scheduled to meet Wednesday with the Lakers, Mavericks and Knicks, all of whom could offer Jordan a more prominent role in their offenses than a Clippers team heavily reliant on All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
According to league officials who were there, Paul spoke with Jordan on Saturday during an event in Santa Monica, attempting to mend a strained relationship.
A person close to the situation labeled the Clippers and Mavericks as the front runners for Jordan, who said in March he would seek a long-term contract but could instead seek a short-term, option-laden deal because of his youth and the dramatic rise in the NBA salary cap over the next few years. Players can begin signing with teams July 9 after the league-mandated moratorium period on formal commitments ends.
The Clippers can offer Jordan, a Texas native, larger yearly raises than other suitors in a multi-year contract, although the Mavericks could largely offset the discrepancy because there is no state income tax in Texas.
There are a handful of factors that could work in the Clippers' favor. Jordan has a strong affinity for Rivers, the coach who helped mold him into a member of the NBA's all-defensive first team last season, and has enjoyed being part of the Clippers' transformation from league laughingstock to contender in the Western Conference.
"This place has been great to me," Jordan said last season. "We were 19-63 my rookie year. I'll never forget that. We were bad. But I feel like every year that I've been here we've gotten better. This being year seven, we can only improve. People want to come to the Clippers now, so that's a whole change in itself."
Jordan is not the only Clippers free agent the team has interest in bringing back. The team would also like to re-sign guard Austin Rivers and forward Glen Davis, though it can offer Rivers only up to $3.1 million for next season because of NBA rules related to his previous contract in New Orleans.
The Clippers have only eight players under contract for next season and have glaring needs at starting small forward and the backup point guard, power forward and center positions. A league source said the team had interest in acquiring a reserve point guard to pair alongside Rivers, likely signaling its intentions to trade star sixth man Jamal Crawford.
A trade involving Crawford could help the Clippers acquire a starting small forward or create a traded-player exception that would allow the team to later trade for a player being paid up to $5.8 million next season.
The Clippers' primary tool in their pursuit of free agents is the so-called mini-midlevel exception of $3.37 million per year for up to three years. Their financial flexibility wouldn't improve much even if Jordan signs elsewhere. Under that scenario, they could offer the full mid-level exception of $5.4 million per year for up to four years, which is still below the average NBA salary of about $6 million for last season.
The Clippers have strong interest in veteran Paul Pierce, who declined his $5.5-million option with the Washington Wizards to become a free agent. Pierce could be slotted into the Clippers' starting small forward spot vacated by the departed Matt Barnes, though there would be concerns about the durability of a player who averaged a career-low 26.2 minutes per game last season and turns 38 in October. Other Clippers targets at small forward include Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Gerald Green.
The Clippers will also be assessing players on a summer league roster that includes forward Royce White, a 2012 first-round draft pick who has played in only three NBA games largely because of issues related to social anxiety disorder.