The Los Angeles Clippers have made it clear that giving DeAndre Jordan a contract extension is a priority for the team this offseason. The center who has thrived in Doc Rivers' system is set to be a free agent in the coming summer with the option of heading elsewhere. The Clippers are hoping that a max contract is enough to keep Jordan put for the long-term, but is the big man looking to get out after reported tension between he and Chris Paul?
According to FOX Sports NBA Insider Bill Reiter, Jordan and Paul had a falling out throughout the season and things spilled over during the loss in the semi-finals of the Western Conference playoffs. The Clippers suffered another early exit in disappointing fashion which left players reportedly frustrated and angry. Reiter writes that it could be bad enough that it pushes Jordan to head elsewhere this summer.
If true, this could be a big hit to the Clippers as the team truly needs the defensive abilities of Jordan. Head coach Doc Rivers made it clear that the team cannot afford to lose Jordan. However, the center is merely No. 3 on that team, taking a backseat to both Paul and Blake Griffin. With tension brewing it is not hard to see him heading elsewhere, but Rivers will do whatever it take to keep him around.
"We're talking about the bench," Rivers said, via the Los Angeles Times, "so I have to do a better job. We don't need to go and get a max player, except for the one we have. We need to add pieces, and it's going to be hard, because we are restricted."
A max contract for Jordan is five years and around $100 million. That makes salary cap space tight for the team and will limit who they can opt to chase in free agency. Of course they could trade contracts to help get space. Both Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes have just a handful of guaranteed cash due to them which might get the Clippers some relief.
According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the team could look at players like Jeff Green or Arron Afflalo who they heavily pursued at the trade deadline. Rivers wants support, not stars. The team needs depth at the small forward spot. They need to get help for Jordan and Griffin. There needs to be some youth inserted into the roster, but small contracts will be all the team is going to be able to offer.
Shelbourne offers up one theory that could shake up the NBA rumor mill. According to the NBA Insider, the Clippers could show interest in Durant should he be available in a trade. If Oklahoma City feels the star is preparing to bolt in free agency, a trade is the best move. Griffin is from Oklahoma City. Could he return home and Los Angeles get a roster shakeup in the form of Durant? It is a long shot at best, but certainly not something to completely rule out.