The clock struck 9:01 p.m. PDT on Tuesday night, and there was little suspense as to what would happen next for the Clippers.
They reached out to representatives of DeAndre Jordan, letting them know of their strong desire to re-sign one of the NBA’s top defensive centers and a cornerstone of their bid to become NBA title contenders.
The Clippers will make a more formal pitch Thursday afternoon at the Beverly Hills offices of Jordan’s agents at Relativity Sports. A contingent of executives including team owner Steve Ballmer and Coach Doc Rivers is scheduled to attend the meeting and show a video highlighting Jordan’s seven seasons with the Clippers and the benefits of staying put.
Of course, other suitors have lined up to lure Jordan away. He is scheduled to meet with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday morning and the Lakers several hours later before the New York Knicks make their pitch Thursday prior to the Clippers.
The Mavericks’ contingent is expected to include owner Mark Cuban, President Donnie Nelson and forward Chandler Parsons. Parsons, who is represented by the same agency as Jordan, already commenced the wooing in Jordan’s hometown of Houston and reportedly had dinner with Jordan in Southern California on Tuesday night.
Jordan undoubtedly will hear how each team not named the Clippers would give him a bigger role in their offense than he enjoyed last season behind All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, which became a point of contention.
Jordan is not expected to drag out his decision long after the Clippers make the final presentation. Should Jordan decide on the Mavericks, who along with the Clippers are believed to be the co-favorites, the Clippers probably would try to execute a sign-and-trade exchange of centers involving Jordan and Tyson Chandler.
In that scenario, the Clippers would replace Jordan, 26, with Chandler, which would be about the only way they could find a high-quality alternative given their severe salary cap restraints. Chandler, 32, is a former All-Star and NBA defensive player of the year who once played alongside Paul with the New Orleans Hornets.
One league source said the Mavericks would be willing to consider that option as a favor to Chandler, who won a championship with Dallas in 2011, should the former Compton Dominguez High standout prefer the Clippers to other teams pursuing him.
The Clippers can offer Jordan a five-year, $108-million contract, more lucrative in length and dollars than other teams that can dangle only four years and $80 million. However, Jordan is believed to be seeking a four-year contract with an opt-out clause after the third year should he sign with a team other than the Clippers.
Jordan would not be subject to state income taxes should he sign with the Mavericks, which would largely negate the financial advantage of re-signing with the Clippers.
Jordan is coming off a season in which he led the NBA in rebounding (15.0 a game) and field-goal percentage (.710) while being selected as the league’s third-team center and a member of the first-team defense. He took only 6.5 shots per game, however.
The Clippers reached out to other free-agent targets Tuesday night but are expected to focus primarily on their attempt to retain Jordan before filling out the rest of their roster.
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