Mavs end pursuit of DeAndre Jordan, who will stay with Clippers

The Dallas Mavericks abandoned their pursuit of DeAndre Jordan on Wednesday night, and the free-agent center decided to return to the Los Angeles Clippers with a four-year, $87.7 million deal, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told CBSSports.com.

Several Clippers players and officials, including Doc Rivers and Steve Ballmer, descended on Jordan's Houston home on Wednesday to plead with Jordan to backtrack on his four-year, $80 million deal with the Mavs, league sources said. Mission accomplished, as Jordan didn't even grant a follow-up meeting with Mavs owner Mark Cuban and Chandler Parsons, who had helped recruit him to the Mavs last week, sources said.

Some of Jordan's Clippers teammates arrived Tuesday night in Houston, where Jordan lives during the offseason, one of the people with knowledge of the effort said. Another person, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Jordan had called Rivers and Blake Griffin to tell them he was having second thoughts about committing to the Mavs. Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick were among the Clippers' delegation holed up with Jordan in his home on Wednesday, the sources said.

Cuban flew to Houston himself to mount a defense along with Parsons. But the Mavs were left with no choice but to abandon their pursuit of Jordan and were "hitting the reset button," said the person familiar with a turn of events that was bizarre even by NBA free agency standards. Jordan Hill and Kevin Seraphin will be among their new free-agent targets after losing Jordan, a person with knowledge of the team's plans said.

The Clippers announced Jordan's return on the team's Twitter account early Thursday. He could've had a five-year, $113 million deal with LA, but decided to hit the free-agent market again sooner, in 2018, a person familiar with his decision said.

ESPN.com first reported the incredible developments on the last day of the NBA's so-called moratorium period, when teams and players can agree to free-agent deals but can't sign them. The moratorium ends at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday, after the league and the National Basketball Players Association have agreed on the official salary cap and luxury-tax figures for the 2015-16 season.

Jordan and agent Fegan hosted four teams for free-agent meetings in Houston after the negotiating period began on July 1: the Mavs, Clippers, Lakers and Knicks. The Clippers did not involved Fegan or anyone from his agency, Relativity Sports, in orchestrating the last-ditch effort to change Jordan's mind, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Fegan, based in Beverly Hills, flew to Houston on Wednesday, according to sources. 

Jordan agreed to a four-year, $80 million deal with Dallas last week, leaving about $28 million on the table to leave Los Angeles. The Clippers offered a five-year, $108 million deal, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. The Mavs could only offer a four-year deal with smaller annual increases under league rules. The value of both potential deals rose Wednesday when the NBA announced that the salary cap for the 2015-16 season will increase to $70 million, nearly $3 million above previous projections. 

The Clippers' interference isn't a violation of any league rule, and no action would be taken against the organization if Jordan, in fact, re-signed with LA, another league source said. But such a flip-flop would violate the spirit of the moratorium period, when executives and agents make deals totaling tens of millions and expect both sides to keep their word. Free-agent commitments during the moratorium also trigger a domino effect of other deals as teams clear salary-cap room for players they've agreed to deals with and those that missed out on free-agent targets make deals with other players.

For example, the Mavericks agreed to a four-year, $57 million deal with Portland free agent Wesley Matthews because Jordan had indicated he wanted to play with him. They passed on an opportunity to acquire Roy Hibbert from the Pacers, who instead agreed to send him to the Lakers. As the Jordan-to-Dallas situation unraveled Wednesday night, Jeremy Lin -- a sign-and-trade target of the Mavs -- agreed to a deal with the Charlotte Hornets, league sources said.

Jordan changing his mind "would undermine the whole premise of the system and the ability of parties to get together shake hands and rely on it," one prominent agent told CBSSports.com. "It would be anarchy."

However, it wouldn't be unprecedented. In 2009, free agent Hedo Turkoglu backed out of a commitment to sign with the Portland Trail Blazers and instead decided to complete a deal with the Toronto Raptors as part of a four-team sign-and-trade. The following July, Turkoglu was traded to the Suns and then back to his previous team, the Magic, in December 2010.

Among the factors motivating the Clippers to make a last-minute push to reclaim their franchise center was a suspicion that the Mavs skirted tampering rules by having Parsons recruit Jordan in Houston and Los Angeles before he became a free agent on July 1, league sources said. According to the NBA Constitution and By-Laws:

Any Player who, directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce, or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer, General Manager or any other person who is under contract to any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiates or contracts for such services shall, on being charged with such tampering, be given an opportunity to answer such charges after due notice and the Commissioner shall have the power to decide whether or not the charges have been sustained; in the event his decision is that the 46 charges have been sustained, then the Commissioner shall have the power to suspend such Player for a definite or indefinite period, or to impose a fine not exceeding $50,000, or inflict both such suspension and fine upon any such Player. 

Parsons, who also is represented by Fegan, joined the Mavs from the Rockets last summer with a three-year, $46 million deal as a restricted free agent. Whether Parsons' pre-free agency interactions with Jordan constituted tampering or friendship would be almost impossible to prove. All we know for sure is that NBA free agency has turned into an all-out circus.

CBS Sports Insider

Ken Berger began covering the NBA when Kobe Bryant was a rookie. Somehow, he'll outlast him. Ken has multiple top-10 finishes in the APSE writing contest and one championship to his credit - the 2015 Metropolitan... Full Bio

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