There was mutual interest between the Lakers and DeAndre Jordan when he opted out of his $24.1-million contract last June with the Clippers and became a free agent.
But Jordan didn’t waste much time agreeing to a one-year, $22.4-million deal with the Dallas Mavericks a few hours into free agency on July 1.
“I think there was a little back and forth between my people and the Lakers, but ultimately I had to make a decision,” Jordan said. “But they made some great off-season moves. They are building something for the future. That’s cool.”
In his first game back in Staples Center since he left the Clippers after 10 seasons, Jordan walked down the hallway and past the Lakers’ locker room, happy to be having a successful season with the Mavericks.
“Last summer’s free agency was pretty crazy,” Jordan said. “But I’ll be a free agent again after this season. We’ll see what goes on.”
Jordan is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
In his first seven games, Jordan was averaging career-highs in points (14.3), rebounds (15.3) and free-throw shooting. His 81.3% from the line (26 of 32) was well ahead of his career mark of 44.9%. He’s fourth in the NBA in field goal-percentage (64.9%) and second in rebounds and defensive rebounds (11.3).
“I’m playing the same game,” Jordan said. “Even though I’m 30 — I guess in basketball years that’s old — but I’ve always been, fortunately, a pretty healthy guy. Luckily I’ve been able to play. I feel great. I plan on doing this for some years.”
LeBron won’t tease Nowitzki
On Saturday LeBron James passed Dirk Nowitzki for sixth place on the league’s all-time scoring list.
When asked if he planned to say anything to the longtime Mavericks star about that Wednesday, James said he wouldn’t.
“That’s never been my cup of tea,” James said. “I’ve always respected the guys who been before me, come before me, set the path for me. Dirk is a great, one of the greatest that’s played this game. That’s never been my cup of tea to boast and brag what I’ve been able to accomplish.”
James is behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list.
Wagner takes another step
Lakers rookie Moe Wagner was active Wednesday night against the Mavericks.
It’s the first time this season that Wagner was available for the Lakers. He has been on rehab assignment with the South Bay Lakers, the Lakers’ developmental affiliate, since Friday.
Wagner played 21 minutes, 33 seconds in the South Bay Lakers’ season opener and made one of eight shots. His lone make came on one of his six three-point attempts.
Wagner, whom the Lakers drafted 25th overall in June, suffered a knee contusion in July during summer league.
The Lakers were without Michael Beasley, who is still away from the team while tending to a family illness.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli