With four minutes left in the third quarter of the Clippers’ season finale Wednesday night at Staples Center, DeAndre Jordan eased his way off the court toward his team’s bench and wrapped his long arms around a standing Doc Rivers for a long and emotional embrace with the coach.
They have been partnered for five years, the two of them playing a major role in making the Clippers prominent in the NBA.
That scene of them together led to much speculation that Jordan might have played his final game for the Clippers. He has spent all 10 of his seasons in the NBA playing for them, but now Jordan has to contemplate his future and decide whether or not that includes the Clippers.
Jordan has a player option for next season that will pay him $24.1 million. He officially could have opted in to that contract Thursday. He has until June 29 to make a decision on opting in or taking his services elsewhere.
Jordan is not in a rush to make a decision.
“I think I’m just going to hang out this summer and wait it out. I mean, it’ll be a tough decision,” Jordan said. “I want to think about all my options and do what’s best for me and my career and my family. But most important, like I always say, I want to be where I’m wanted. And wherever that is, that’s hopefully where I’m going to be.”
The has been plenty of conjecture about whether Jordan has discussed a contract extension with the club. He was succinct when asked about a deal.
“None,” Jordan said. “Zero. Zero discussions.”
The Clippers maintain that talks will be ongoing.
Jordan heard his name come up in trade rumors all season, leaving him to wonder if the Clippers wanted him around. He says that will not weigh into his decision.
“They’ve been talking about trading me for the past five years, so I’m kind of numb to it now,” Jordan said. “This year was the most I thought it was going to happen. But obviously it didn’t happen. But like I said, it’s always good to have teams interested in you and who value what you do on the basketball court.”
As the two of them hugged on the sideline, Rivers said he thought back to his first meeting with Jordan and how he placed high demands on the 6-11 center.
“He basically got everything other than an NBA championship. When I look back on that list — and I’m not going to go through that list — every goal that we set, he achieved every single one of them, except for that one,” Rivers said. “And that, to me, is the most important one. But the other ones are important as well. So, I’m just very proud of him. We had a great relationship.”
The 2017-18 campaign was another strong season for Jordan.
He completed the season second in the NBA in rebounds (15.2 a game) and field-goal percentage (64.5%). He shot a career-high 58% from the free-throw line. He collected 20-plus rebounds in 13 games, tying his own franchise record that he shares with Bob McAdoo.
Jordan’s 750 games played over his career are the most in franchise history. His 264 double-doubles are one shy of Elton Brand’s franchise record.
So much of what he has accomplished, Jordan said, is because Rivers pushed him to be his best every night.
“Man, I love Doc,” Jordan said. “Doc has been the greatest coach I’ve had in my entire life.”
The contracts of Clippers assistant coaches Mike Woodson, Sam Cassell, Brendan O’Connor, Armond Hill and Patrick Sullivan all expire June 30. With Rivers having just one year left on his contract and his future uncertain, all of the assistants are in limbo about their status as well. Woodson, who has been a head coach with the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, and Cassell both have strong interest in interviewing for one of the NBA’s head coaching vacancies.