J.J. Redick was drying off from a swim lesson with his 10-month-old son when he saw the pulse-quickening text message.
“Call me ASAP,” read the text from Clippers Coach Doc Rivers.
No, Rivers assured Redick when he called, he was not being traded, and there was no mention of Redick's having given the Clippers an “F-minus” for their efforts in free agency. But Rivers did need some help. He wanted the shooting guard to join a contingent of Clippers heading to Houston on Wednesday to urge DeAndre Jordan to back out of his commitment to the Dallas Mavericks after the free-agent center had expressed second thoughts.
Redick detailed the wild sequence that ensued during an interview Friday with Grantland's Zach Lowe, one that ended with Jordan re-signing Wednesday night with the Clippers for four years and $87.6 million in one of the most dramatic reversals in the history of free agency.
Jordan expressed regret Friday evening for not informing Mavericks owner Mark Cuban of his decision, tweeting, “I want to publicly apologize to one of the best owners in the world @MCuban, the @DallasMavs and their fans. … I am humbled by @DallasMavs & @MCuban kindness and understanding. I am sorry to have a change of heart.”
Jordan was vacationing in the Caribbean at the time of his tweets.
Cuban on Friday outlined his version of events on his messaging app Cyber Dust, writing he had traveled to Houston on Tuesday after hearing Jordan was reconsidering his commitment to Dallas.
Cuban wrote he drove to Jordan's home only to find it vacant. So Cuban texted Jordan, telling him he was there and wanted to talk. Jordan texted back saying he was on a date and Cuban offered to stop by to say hello or take Jordan and his date to Dallas for a night out.
Jordan, Cuban wrote, did not respond, so he left Jordan's house and returned to his hotel.
“He knew I was in town,” Cuban wrote. “He knew I was close by. I knew something was up. I was getting the same reports that everyone else was. I also knew his agents were coming to town. It made sense that he would talk to them and worst case, even if he was having second thoughts, the agent would be able to give me updates.
“Like any big career move, it's natural to have second thoughts. So while I was concerned, I still wasn't worried. So I went to bed.”
Actually, there was plenty of reason to fret.
Redick said he had already driven from his home in Austin, Texas, to Houston when Dallas forward Chandler Parsons started the Twitter war of emojis as both the Mavericks and Clippers scrambled to win Jordan's allegiance. Redick said he was scrolling through his Twitter timeline Wednesday afternoon when he saw Parsons' plane emoji.
“Chandler Parsons to the rescue! Yay!” Redick said somewhat facetiously. “And I'm just like, all right, I'm going to tweet out a car. I'm already here.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin had arrived the previous night, Redick said. Jordan and Griffin apparently were eating dinner together at the time Jordan sent Cuban a text saying he was on a date.
Redick described the scene at Jordan's house Wednesday as “less a pitch and more just team-building” because Jordan had already essentially decided to return to the Clippers. Players quickly abandoned a game of spades on the kitchen table when Jordan's parents arrived with chicken for everyone in the traveling party. (The team of Chris Paul and Paul Pierce was beating Redick and Jordan at the time, Redick said.)
Meanwhile, Griffin was scouting Jordan's home to stage a picture he posted to Twitter of a chair wedged against the door, the implication being the Clippers were trying to keep out the Mavericks. But Redick said no one from Dallas came to Jordan's house while he was there.
Believing Jordan's decision to re-sign with the Clippers was secure, Redick left. But he was so engrossed in keeping up with the developments via his cellphone that he took the wrong freeway and ended up in San Antonio.
Pierce, who was widely lampooned for posting a picture of a rocket ship instead of a rocket ship emoji as part of the Twitter skirmish, got a last laugh of sorts late Friday by recounting Jordan's change of heart entirely through a series of symbols on the Player's Tribune website.
Pierce gave his account under the headline “How It Went Down,” with his sequence showing a handshake agreement followed by a person scratching his head in indecision, the logos of both the Mavericks and the Clippers, an hourglass, a light bulb, an airplane, the state of Texas, a house, a collection of people with ideas, a heart, a basketball, stacks of cash, the new Clippers logo, cards, a clock striking midnight, a signed contract, a happy face, another airplane, the state of California, a trophy inscribed with No. 1 and a cross with Pierce's “Truth” nickname.
Redick called Jordan's decision to stay with the Clippers “vital” because it allowed them to keep one of the NBA's top rebounders and shot-blockers. Redick also acknowledged feeling “a little bit” bad for Dallas after Jordan failed to inform Cuban of his decision, though Redick said Jordan “probably” did not owe the Mavericks a call.
“There's this discussion on Twitter about, ‘Is DeAndre wrong?' or whatever,” Redick said. “This happens all the time in every business.”
To illustrate his point, Redick said his agent informed Minnesota executive Flip Saunders in the summer of 2013 after Redick backed out of a commitment to sign with the Timberwolves. Redick also noted then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling never called him to express his hesitation about the sign-and-trade deal that brought Redick to Los Angeles that summer “because he thought I was a bench player or because I was white — I've heard both stories.”
Redick denied that his giving the Clippers an “F-minus” for their efforts in free agency was part of an orchestrated attempt to put pressure on Jordan to return to the team. Redick said he had issued that grade in a Monday interview, before receiving Rivers' call Tuesday morning about Jordan having second thoughts.
Jordan's return has allowed the Clippers to resume their efforts to fill out the rest of their roster. They formally announced the signing of Pierce on Friday to a three-year, $10.5-million contract.
One league executive, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss potential moves, said the team hoped to re-sign guard Austin Rivers in the next few days and was targeting center Cole Aldrich and forward Darrell Arthur as backup big men.
The Clippers already have their starting center after Jordan was literally the man in the middle of one of the craziest days in team history.
“Obviously, we needed DeAndre back and there were some funny moments,” Redick said, “but in a very serious way, it was vital for us to get him back.”