A contingent of Clippers players and executives was scheduled to meet with DeAndre Jordan in his Houston hometown early Wednesday afternoon, trying to persuade the free-agent center to renege on his commitment to the Dallas Mavericks after Jordan had expressed second thoughts about his decision to Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, according to league executives.
Jordan agreed on Friday to sign a four-year, $80-million contract with the Mavericks, but the commitment does not become formal until Jordan signs with the team, something that cannot happen until 9:01 p.m. PDT Wednesday.
The Clippers contingent included Rivers, team owner Steve Ballmer and players Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce. Paul re-routed his travel itinerary to make the meeting after concluding a vacation in the Bahamas.
One league executive with knowledge of the Clippers’ thinking said they were “hopeful” they could bring him back to the only NBA team he has known in his seven professional seasons. An executive close to Jordan described him as “very emotional” but said the Clippers had done a good job of making him feel wanted.
Jordan sparked the Clippers’ aggressive push to woo him back after he reached out to Rivers on Monday night, according to a league official.
ESPN first reported Jordan’s indecision about his destination and the Clippers’ efforts to get him to reconsider his commitment.
The Clippers had long made it clear that keeping Jordan would be the focal point of their free-agency plans, and 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 a championship pedigree.
Jordan also was expected to meet Wednesday with Dallas owner Mark Cuban and forward Chandler Parsons, who were trying to have Jordan fulfill his vow to join the Mavericks.
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 the Clippers’ Redick to respond with a car emoji since he presumably could have driven to Houston from his home in Austin, Texas.
Things were just starting to get creative. Griffin 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 earlier this week in the Bahamas. Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson weighed in with a swimming emoji, and Pierce, apparently unsure how to attach an emoji, attached a picture of a rocket ship.
A league executive said the Clippers were not happy that the Mavericks were granted a dinner with Jordan in addition to a formal pitch meeting once the free-agency process started last week.
Jordan has not commented publicly since making his commitment. His Twitter profile still shows a picture of him dunking in a Clippers jersey.
One league source described the Mavericks as “nervous” about the possibility that Jordan would change his mind.
Dallas has been famously spurned during free agency before. Point guard Jason Kidd backed out of a commitment to re-sign with the Mavericks in 2013 to sign with the New York Knicks.