Winners and Losers: The DeAndre Jordan Emoji-Fueled Free-Agency Flip-Flop

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So that happened …


Yesterday was an amazing circus. It will likely go down as the high-water mark for the use of transportation emojis, a low point for the recruiting acumen of Chandler Parsons and Mark Cuban, and one of the great days in the history of Basketball Twitter. As DeAndre Jordan was held captive in his Houston home by members of the Clippers, we were held captive by this incredible story unfolding in real time. Let’s sort through the rubble and see who won and who lost yesterday’s DeAndregeddon.


DeAndre Jordan

Andrew Sharp: You could definitely make the argument that he should be a loser here. First he was wooed by Chandler Parsons, then he was guilt-tripped by Doc Rivers and the Clippers — held hostage in his house, allegedly. In both cases, he was the easiest mark. Jordan was also apparently unable to pick up the phone to call the Mavs and end the madness like an adult. There are a lot of reasons DeAndre comes off looking less than great in all of this, not the least of which being that everyone in America said to themselves at one point yesterday, “All of this for DeAndre Jordan? Really? Come on.” He began Wednesday as the pride of Dallas’s offseason; by the end of the day he just seemed overwhelmed, and everyone was calling him overrated.

On the other hand … WE DID IT. Twenty-four hours ago, I was asking, “Wasn’t there anyone in his life to talk him out of this?” Apparently there was. Going to Dallas would have been a bold decision, but it also would have been a bad decision. It doesn’t matter that it took the most ridiculous plot twist in free-agency history to get this right. We get to watch DeAndre dunk everything in sight instead of playing the poor man’s Dwight on a dying Mavs team, and the Clippers are lurking as sneaky contenders again.

They’ll win 55-60 games, and in nine months this will be an amazing footnote for a big man who continues to do ridiculous things on a team that fits his strengths perfectly. It’s so much better than going to the team that would have exposed all his weaknesses. Sure, there will be plenty of hot takes about how this was handled and what it says about DeAndre Jordan. Not all of them will be wrong! But they’ll all be forgotten when the Clippers are running through teams next year.

Winning cures everything. So do great weather and lots of money. DeAndre’s a winner today, and don’t let anyone tell you different.

Doc Rivers

Chris Ryan: Is Doc a genius? Or just lucky? Probably a little bit of both. Either way, DeAndre’s change of mind has single-handedly saved Doc’s already-shaky rep as a team executive. On Wednesday morning, if I had told you that Doc was seriously considering Nextel-chirping Kendrick Perkins to play center, you would have believed me, right? And if I told you that Steve Ballmer was seriously considering bringing in a strong outside voice to balance out Doc in the front office, that would have sounded plausible, no? I mean, hell, J.J. Redick gave the Clippers’ offseason an “F-minus,” after it looked like DeAndre was Dallas-bound. And now here we are — the Clippers are bringing back their core, plus Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson. They can still deal Jamal Crawford for some help, and Doc looks like he knows what he’s doing. Sometimes you don’t have to be right, you just have to be there when someone else is wrong.


Jason Concepcion: What separates the human race from simple beasts? Animals, like us, care for their young. Some, like the penguin, pair together for life. Many — like the dolphin — can communicate and have a language unto themselves. So, what is it that sets us apart? We can communicate, not just with sounds, but with symbols. Letters, numbers, words. And, of course: emoji. The DeAndre Jordan saga represents the triumph of the emoji as a means of conveying information about trifling free-agency circuses.

As the epic day of betrayal, dithering, and possible hostage-taking began to unfold, and with the forces of the Clippers converging on DeAndre Jordan, Chandler Parsons put up the Bat-Signal:

Translation: Here comes the cavalry, armed with Mark Cuban’s credit cards.

Which led to J.J. “F-Minus” Redick to tweet this:

Translation: I’m firing up the Prius and driving over to DeAndre’s from Austin.

That was quickly followed by this response, from Blake to Parsons:

Translation: To quote Shawn Carter, “We don’t believe you; you need more people.”

And from there, mayhem.

Chris Paul tweeted a banana and a boat, which was actually hilarious. Paul Pierce tweeted a JPEG of the rocket emoji like a 65-year-old man who just got a smartphone. Mike Woodson tweeted a swimming emoji, which is just an inefficient means of traveling long distances. Austin Rivers tweeted something, but no one cares what it was. Kobe tweeted five trophies (and two padlocks and a “zzz” emoji), which was fantastic because Kobe’s answer to the question of peace in the Middle East would clearly be to make the Palestinians and the Israelis count his rings.

Paul Pierce

Sharp: I’m not here to say his presence was more valuable than that of Doc Rivers, or Callie Rivers, or Blake Griffin, or Chris Paul. I feel it in my heart, but I can’t say for sure. All I know for certain is that in a day of insanity, one that was basically designed for the Internet, the best moment of all was Paul Pierce not understanding the Internet.

Frame the above tweet in Springfield, right next to the frog costume, a Celtics banner, the clippers that he never used for his patchy-ass beard, the wheelchair from the Finals that will piss off Lakers fans until the end of time, and a fake Game of Thronesstyle severed head of Masai Ujiri.

Paul Pierce forever.

Chris Paul


Shea Serrano: When the photo of Chris Paul riding on the banana boat landed on the Internet, most everyone made fun of him, as well they should have. The banana boat is the most ridiculous mode of transportation. But when the DeAndre Jordan Emoji Extravaganza started, when it became clear that something crazy was going to happen, when the Earth reversed itself on its path around the sun, when fish began to fly and birds began to swim, WHEN CHRIS PAUL TWEETED EMOJI OF A BANANA AND A BOAT, that’s when it was obvious that DeAndre wasn’t leaving the Clippers, and also that Chris Paul is the best person of my whole life.

Chris Paul tweeting that goofy tweet was funny, which is incredible because who’d ever have thought that Chris Paul could be funny? He’s been in 65 insurance commercials and literally 0 percent of them have been funny. So that’s the first thing. Second, it was beautiful. Because make no mistake, he picked those specific emoji as a joke, but the message behind it was serious as shit: “I want my DeAndre back.”

Chris Paul was a brokenhearted mess when DeAndre decided to leave for Dallas. You can’t convince me otherwise. What we saw yesterday was a man — a man who’d been hurt, a man who’d lost a thing he didn’t even know he could lose. And we saw him stand up and declare to all of the Internet, “No, FUCK that. I’m coming, DeAndre. I’m on my way. YOU ARE MINE, DeAndre.”

I love that. I love that so much. We all should. The Clippers need to win the championship and then Chris and DeAndre need to just go right off into the Pacific on a banana boat. That’s what needs to happen. And if it can’t, if he can’t be a winner there, he needs to be a winner here. But please, universe, please let that happen.

Dwight Howard

Jason Gallagher: Looks pretty decisive and mature after all of this!


Dallas at SacramentoJose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/TNS via Getty Images

Mark Cuban

Jason Gallagher: June 20, 2006 — The Miami Heat come back from a 2-1 series deficit to defeat the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

May 3, 2007 — The 8-seed Warriors defeat the 1-seed (and historically great) 67-win Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.

July 8, 2015 — DeAndre Jordan becomes a child, locks himself in a house with his friends, and backs out of an $80 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks to stay with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Whether it’s Lamar Odom leaving the team midseason or Rajon Rondo leaving the team mid-playoffs, there’s just something about the way the Mavericks lose. It’s never subtle. The three dates above are probably the three worst days in Mavs history since Mark Cuban took over the team. That third one, though it may not seem like it now, will probably be the one that winds up stinging the most.

In the short game, Cuban did absolutely nothing wrong here. He and his posse made it a priority to go after DeAndre and told him everything he wanted to hear. It’s certainly not Cuban’s fault that DJ had a change of heart and invited his old team to his crib. Cuban all but had to roll in with an Apache chopper, like the president in Sharknado 3, to get a conversation with someone who had already agreed to sign to his team. That’s insane.

It’s the big-picture stuff for which Cuban deserves the L. Yesterday’s dance at DeAndre’s was one of many examples of him banking on a quick fix, only to find his team in utter ruin. We all know the song Cuban has played ever since winning a title. He invests nothing in the draft, signs B-level talent to short-term contracts, loses them in the next free-agency period, rinses, and repeats — all the while claiming his organization is clever because they zig while others zag.

The Mavs winning the title in 2011 is like a large-scale version of a Monta Ellis game-winner in December. It’s great for the time being, but now Monta thinks he’s invincible and nothing can stop him. He goes into heat-check mode. Cuban and Donnie Nelson have been operating in heat-check mode every summer for the past several years, and every time … clank.

The worst part in all of this is Dirk. If the best teammate he ever plays with in the last five years of his career is Ellis, then Cuban has done him a giant disservice — especially after Nowitzki gave up an insane amount of money so the Mavs could rebuild.

Cuban prides himself as a businessman first, and as he probably knows more than anyone, in this business — like most businesses — it’s all about results. The Clippers were petty, yes, but they got it done and now have a solid future ahead. They zigged, while the Mavs zagged.

Chandler Parsons

Juliet Litman: A onetime Los Angeles resident once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” It’s supposed to be a comforting adage, implying that effort often leads to success. But what about when you put forth maximum effort and still fail? Today, we need a new adage for that, something about silver linings and very-near-successes. Something worthy of the recruiting work that Chandler Parsons put in last week.

It was a simpler time back then. Parsons and Jordan were a couple of pals hitting the town for five consecutive nights, as friends and colleagues (rarely) do. The specter of Jordan going to Dallas was still just a possibility, and Parsons was making the most of his offseason for the second summer in a row. The time he signed his offer sheet in an Orlando nightclub reigns as the top moment in Parsons’s professional history, but tales of his business dinners were intriguing enough to grab the no. 2 spot on the list. His primary objective may have been to win over Jordan, but he was also out here cultivating a legacy. His social prowess was becoming legendary; he was making up for whatever he lacked on the basketball court by acting as an unofficial assistant GM. A few reporters were already buying into the legend. Even if the 2014-15 Mavs underwhelmed, Parsons seemingly made them attractive, at least on paper.

His ultimately failed recruiting effort is still making a top-list, except now it supersedes the time that Damian Lillard hit the game-winner in the 2014 playoffs as the most notorious episode of Parsons’s career. For a second consecutive summer, he’s a secondary character in someone else’s story. If you’re in the business of mythmaking for Parsons, yesterday was not a good day.

Filed Under: NBA, 2015 NBA Free Agency, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul, Chris Ryan, Blake Griffin, Doc Rivers, Mark Cuban, Chandler Parsons, Andrew Sharp, Jason Gallagher, Kirk Goldsberry, Juliet Litman, Jason Concepcion, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Shea Serrano