Saturday, July 4, 2015

The DeAndre Jordan Bungle. Blame Paul and Doc Rivers.

Who's to blame for LA Clippers defensive whiz/center DeAndre Jordan defecting to the Dallas Mavericks, instantly dropping the Clips among the also-rans in the NBA's Western Conference title race?

Point the finger at point guard/ team leader Chris Paul for starters. He helped create an atmosphere that alienated Jordan to the point where he took less money to go to an inferior team. Jordan's exit leaves a giant hole in the team, one that can't be filled this season because he made his move after all the free-agent big men had been signed. The blame for that unfilled hole, which ruins the upcoming season, belongs to head coach Doc Rivers. But that's a separate issue.

First let's look at Paul, who was instrumental in driving Jordan away.  According to two sources close to two Clippers' players, Paul made Jordan's life miserable for years with his relentless badgering. Paul is a fanatical competitor who thinks players should be focused on work, work, work, all the time. He has little patience with a hang-loose guy like Jordan. He also was constantly pestering Jordan about his lousy free-throw shooting. The bickering, reported the sources, witnessed by those with seats near the Clippers' bench, was just the tip of the iceberg. The arguments in the locker room were louder and nastier.

According to the sources, nobody on the Clippers is crazy about Paul, whose somber, non-nonsense, super-authoritarian attitude turns players off. Teammates compare him to Michael Jordan , who was a hard-driving dictator in the Chicago Bulls' heyday. Michael took the fun out of playing. Arguably, say the sources, so does Paul. As DeAndre's stature rose in the NBA, he felt he was above being picked on by Paul. He simply had enough and wanted out.

Something else bothered Jordan about being a Clipper. He also wanted to play a bigger role in the offense. He was fed up with being the third option, behind Paul and Blake Griffin. Recognizing that was on his wish list, Dallas promised to make him an offensive star.

Everything, said the sources, pointed to Jordan leaving for Dallas, particularly since he's a Texas native who went to Texas A&M. Sources said it was 90-10 that he'd sign with the Mavericks. Why didn't coach Rivers see this? Others said it was clear Jordan couldn't wait to get out of LA. So why didn't Rivers take some steps to lure another decent big man, like Tyson Chandler or Robin Lopez, before they signed elsewhere? Instead, he was dragging his feet, allowing Jordan to leave the team high and dry. Colossal blunder by Rivers.

By the way, this sudden need for a center also probably means curtains for the Clipper career of Jamal Crawford, the No 1 offensive bench weapon,  He'll be the prime trade bait in their search for a replacement for Jordan. Losing Crawford will take considerable punch away from the offense, just like losing Jordan will subtract significant power from the defense...

The Clippers really blew the Jordan case on several levels. Regression, here they come.

Nice work, Chris Paul. Good job, Doc Rivers.