In comparison to the Golden State Warriors' other free agent center targets, restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan is something of an unknown commodity.
Ultimately, your opinion of the Warriors' 4-year, $40 million dollar offer for the 6-foot-11 center - and the Los Angeles Clippers' expected decision to match and leave the Warriors without yet another free agent target - probably comes down to whether you believe it's worth paying for potential at the risk of him becoming nothing more than a future albatross contract.
GSoM community member ivanbe has already written that 4-years and $40 million is too much and that making moves like that is yet another Warriors-based example of how bad teams gets worse (click here to read it).
But Steve Perrin of SB Nation's Clips Nation offers us some insight about what Jordan has shown during his three-year career in L.A. and what he might become wherever he ends up playing in the future (in response to questions that have emerged from GSoM discussions) . His message probably gives ammo to those both for and against the Warriors' signing Jordan at that price: "DJ is who he is", says Perrin, but "you have to pay for size".1. GSoM: Is $10 million per year overpaying for Jordan?
Steve Perrin: Short answer: yes. But (a) everybody overpays for size and (b) you have to overpay for a restricted free agent or the team just matches. In DeAndre's case, the potential is there to actually be worth that. But he certainly hasn't done anything to justify that kind of salary yet.
2. GSoM: Do you want the Clippers to match that offer?
SP: That's an interesting way to put it: do I want the Clippers to match? Not, do I think they will or even do I think they should, but do I WANT them to? I'll say yes, I want them to match; but it ain't my money, right? Honestly I'd be torn at that amount. It would be a gamble for sure. But as I said above, you have to pay for size, so if they let him go, they'll have to pay someone else that kind of money soon enough.
He's the same age as Gordon and Griffin, has been teammates with Gordon for three years, is basically inseparable with Blake. He's actually worth paying a premium for some of those reasons. And like I said, if he continues to develop, he could actually be worth that money. The other reason I'd want them to match is to help change the perception of the team. If they don't match, it fuels the "cheap Clippers" narrative. (Then again, if the do match a huge offer and he turns into an albatross, it fuels the "stupid Clippers" narrative, so what can you do?)
3. GSoM: In discussing the possibility of adding Jordan to the Warriors roster, some fans see a good young center oozing with potential while others see a player who's more style (dunking) over substance who looks better than he is because Blake Griffin drew so much attention from opposing defenses. Is that a fair criticism from the naysayers or are they missing something?
SP: DJ is who he is. The dunks don't count any more points than a 10 footer (which he's never made in his life) and the blocks into the third row just give the ball back to the other team - so yeah, there's an element of flash to his game that might cause him to be overvalued. He's getting a reputation as a defensive force, but the truth is he's still not a great post defender, he still bites on way to many up fakes, and he rarely bothers to box out, preferring just to turn and chase the rebound. So he's got plenty of room for improvement.
But don't discount the dunks either. He's an unbelievable finisher at the rim - his range is one foot, but he's automatic from there, which sounds like a joke but you and I know that there are plenty of bigs in this league who don't finish around the rim the way they should. DJ knows his limitations, he doesn't waste any possessions because he rarely gets the ball other than for rebounds and at the other end of lobs, and because of all that he's incredibly efficient, shooting .686 last season, which was the best in the league for anyone who played more than 100 minutes.
4. GSoM: As a Clippers fan who watched Jordan consistently last season, what - if any - offensive ability or improvement has Jordan shown over the years that other fans seem to underestimate in your opinion?
SP: This is the bad news: there's been basically no offensive improvement. DJ's a dunker and that's about it. In summer league in 2009, he showed some signs that maybe he'd develop some post game - but it's never translated against NBA defenses. And of course he's always been a terrible free throw shooter, and has shown little improvement there. I will say this - DJ will surprise you with a nifty pass from time to time.
5. GSoM: Folks at GSoM have compared Jordan to a number of other NBA players, from "a dunking Shelden Williams" to Tyson Chandler to Dwight Howard. Projecting 5 years into the future, what NBA player do you think Jordan will be most similar to?
SP: Tyson Chandler should be his role model, no question. I mean, I'll admit that there have been times when I've had inklings of Dwight Howard. Howard had basically no offensive game when he came into the league either, and he developed more and more skills over time. So I wondered, why not? DJ is in the ballpark with Howard as an athlete (though not as big), so if you dream big, then why not? But it was always wishful thinking and because he still hasn't developed any offensive game to speak of, we can put it to rest. But Chandler is well within reach - right down to the free throw shooting.
One little noticed aspect of Chandler's career year last year was his foul shooting: after four consecutive seasons below 60%, Chandler shot 73% the last two seasons - which makes me think there's hope for DJ. But Jordan definitely has the potential to be an impact player on the defensive end a la Chandler. He's ridiculously long, he's active, he's athletic. He needs to continue to work on the fundamentals, which happily can be taught. But all those things you can't teach? He's already got them.
6. GSoM: In the end, who ends up on the better end of this situation: the team that actually signs Jordan for $10 million or the team that forced a division opponent to take on his $10 million contract?
SP: We're going to have to wait and see on this one. It may depend on whether your plan B is Chris Kaman or Andris Biedrins!