Well some craziness occured yesterday, including some serious emoji action, and now Jordan is headed back to the Clippers. So now, what's next?
While nobody looks particularly good amid this bizarre ordeal, there is no question that the Mavericks were the big losers here. Jordan's flaws are pretty well-documented at this point as he is a disaster at the free throw line, making him tough to play in crunch-time, he doesn't have much in terms of an offensive game and his defense was overrated by Rivers, but he also is an athletic monster, a superb rebounder, a strong rim protector and an excellent finisher. He would have filled a big void on the Mavericks and would have been a nice fit next to Dirk Nowitzki.
Now, Dallas is in a really tough spot. Given this stage in the free agent process, anybody the Mavs bring in to play the five would be a significant downgrade (Kevin Seraphin? Jordan Hill?). They could pursue a trade for someone but the bottom line is that they are in tough shape regardless.
Here is the tough question for the Mavericks now: will they blow up the team and tank? Mark Cuban has got a coach in Rick Carlisle that wants to win now (and is not a great fit for a rebuilding job) and their franchise centerpiece, Nowitzki, also wants to win now, and in Dallas, but he also said that had the team struck out this offseason, they would tank. They did sign Wesley Matthews but he is coming off a torn Achilles, they still have nothing at the point and their first-round pick, involved in the very successful Rajon Rondo trade, only has top-seven protection. Considering they are not looking like a playoff team right now, tanking seems like a legitimate option now.
For the Clippers, losing Jordan would have been a disaster for the same reason that it is a problem for the Mavericks: the lack of suitable replacements. A weak bench would have been made even worse and may have led the team to trade Jamal Crawford to fill one of their holes. But now with Jordan returning to the Southland, the Clips remain a legitimate contender in the West.
But who really look bad is the league, namely how there is this "moratorium" period between when free agency begins, June 1st, and when contracts can be signed, June 9th. That leads to situations like this where a player can agree to sign somewhere, and then actually sign elsewhere. Now this could be a ploy for teams to continue pursuing players until they actually sign their contracts. Zach Lowe, as you would expect, does an excellent breakdown of why this is and what the potential fixes could be.