DALLAS (AP) — DeAndre Jordan has chosen the Mavericks over the Los Angeles Clippers in what turned into a tense boom-or-bust wait for Dallas in pursuit of the free-agent center.
Two people familiar with the deal tell The Associated Press that the NBA rebound leader agreed to terms Friday. One said the deal was worth $80 million over four years. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no deals can be completed and signed until Thursday.
This is the biggest free-agent pickup in Mark Cuban’s 15 years as Dallas owner, after three straight summers of losing out on the big names. The deal comes two days after the Mavericks lost their backup plan when last season’s starter, Tyson Chandler, bolted for Phoenix.
The last of Jordan’s four meetings was with the Clippers. But coach Doc Rivers couldn’t persuade the Texas native to stick with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the franchise that drafted him seven years ago.
Jordan, who turns 27 this month, led the NBA in rebounding the past two seasons and is coming off career-best averages of 11.5 points and 15.0 rebounds. Since the Clippers drafted the Texas A&M star with the 35th overall pick in 2008, Jordan has averaged 8.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.
The 6-foot-11 Houston native figures to have a more prominent role in Dallas after being mostly an alley-oop and second-chance option behind Paul and Griffin in Los Angeles.
His best season helped the Clippers get within a victory of their first trip to the Western Conference finals. But Los Angeles collapsed in the second half of a Game 6 loss at home with a chance to close out Houston and dropped the deciding game on the road.
Now Jordan’s job will be to get the Mavericks out of the first round for the first time since they won the franchise’s only championship in 2011.
The first step to landing Jordan might have come late Thursday when shooting guard Wesley Matthews agreed to a four-year contract with terms that were going to depend on whether Jordan decided to join the former Portland player in Dallas.
Before Matthews’ commitment, the only starters returning for the Mavericks were 37-year-old star Dirk Nowitzki, going into his 18th season and no longer the top scoring option, and forward Chandler Parsons.
The 26-year-old Parsons was the closest thing Dallas had to a young building block after the failed December trade with Boston for point guard Rajon Rondo, who clashed with coach Rick Carlisle and was banished two games into a first-round playoff loss to Houston. Rondo is a free agent.
The Mavericks also let shooting guard Monta Ellis go to Indiana after he led them in scoring — the first player other than Nowitzki to do that since 2000. Dallas didn’t contact Ellis in free agency, and he agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal with Indiana on Thursday.
Parsons promised to be the primary recruiter in free agency the day after losing to his former team in a five-game series. He missed all but the first game because of a right knee injury that required surgery after the season.
And Parsons followed through, dining with Jordan frequently in the days before free agency opened. That included an impromptu dinner along with Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson late Tuesday night in Los Angeles, and another long meeting Wednesday.
Ultimately, the Mavericks succeeded with Jordan where they failed with the likes of Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony over the past three summers. All were targets, some more realistic than others, after Cuban chose salary-cap space over keeping key pieces of his championship team.
Chandler was among those who didn’t return four years ago, signing a four-year deal with the New York Knicks. He returned in a trade for the final year of that contract, but is leaving again on another four-year deal with the Suns after the Mavericks decided to pursue Jordan first.
The loss of Jordan, who also met with the Lakers and Knicks, leaves the Clippers looking for a center. Jordan’s backup, Glen Davis, also is a free agent.
Had Chandler not agreed on his four-year, $52 million deal with the Suns, the Clippers could have pursued a sign-and-trade agreement with Dallas involving the 7-footer who went to high school in the Los Angeles area. The Clippers drafted Chandler second overall in 2001 but traded him to Chicago on draft night.