DeAndre Jordan is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Could that be why Lakers head coach Byron Scott was so complimentary of the Clippers big man earlier this week?
“It’s a luxury to have a big that can clog up the middle like that, as athletic as he is, and also can block shots and rebound the ball the way he rebounds,” Scott said of Jordan, according to NBA.com. “I think he is Defensive Player of the Year.”
In 79 games this season, Jordan is averaging 11.4 points, 14.9 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.0 steal in 34.4 minutes per game, which are all career-highs.
Additionally, since the All-Star break in Ferbaruy, Jordan is pulling down 17.2 rebounds per game.
Clearly, there’s no question that Jordan has been a great defensive player this year, though you have to wonder if Scott made the comments with the 26-year-old’s pending free agency in mind.
“He changes shots and he changes guys’ minds by going in there, because he’s such a presence,” Scott said. “It’s great to have a guy like that.
“He talks. He’s one of the best communicators. He can do whatever you want him to do defensively. He can hard show, he can trap guys, or he can play centerfield.”
Could Jordan be doing those things while wearing purple and gold next season? Right now, it’s hard to say.
Firstly, the Lakers’ priorities during free agency will likely be affected by who they draft in June – that’s if they keep their pick, of course.
If the Lakers land a player like Jahlil Okafor, Karl Towns or Willie Cauley-Stein, they may not look to pursue a high-paid big man like Jordan during free agency.
Secondly, the Clippers may decide to match any offer Jordan receives from elsewhere.
While Jordan won’t be a restricted free agent this summer, he presumably would like to stay put with the Clippers – after all, his good friend Blake Griffin is on the team and they’re winning right now – so if Doc Rivers and new billionaire owner Steve Ballmer decide to offer the Texas A&M product a maximum salary deal, it would be surprising if he refused.
Could DeAndre Jordan be one of those players?
Probably not, but this is still something to keep in mind for when free agency rolls around in July.