The Washington Wizards are not in the market for coveted free agent DeAndre Jordan. However, in terms of interest over where the Los Angeles Clippers center signs, they are invested.
It's a Paul Pierce thing.
Jordan ranks among the top free agents this season. Unlike LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol, there is some sense that the shot blocking big man could switch teams, which has led to numerous rumors ahead of the start of league-wide free agency on Wednesday.
Here's an assumption and a rather valid one: If Jordan leaves the Clippers, Pierce will not sign there.
Yes, he's a Los Angeles native. Yes, he has the connection to Doc Rivers, his coach for several seasons with the Celtics and now the Clippers' coach and general manager. The pair were central figures in Boston's 2008 championship.
At this point in the soon to-be 38-year-old's career, winning another title trumps playing in his hometown or a reunion.
If Jordan leaves, the Clippers title window closes.
That's true even with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the roster because of limited financial flexibility. As ProBasketballTalk.com blogger-in-chief and Southern California based Kurt Helin notes, "Clippers fans should be nervous — if Jordan bolts Los Angeles has no way to replace him with near the same quality (even without Jordan’s contract LA would be close to the cap and have only the mid-level exception to use; which last year got them Spencer Hawes)."
The rumor mill suggests four teams are in the hunt for Jordan. That includes the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, but those historic heavyweights apparently are behind the Clippers and Dallas Mavericks in pursuit of the Texas native. The Mavericks are turning over most of their roster and looking to make a splash with their available cap space.
Of course, the Clippers have lots in their favor, including the Los Angeles/Hollywood scene that Jordan likes. Plus, only the Clippers can offer Jordan the guaranteed fifth year, which could ultimately net the big man about another $30 million.
Maybe the allure of becoming more than a perceived third wheel trumps all. Maybe Jordan really wants to split apart from Paul. Reports of a rift between the dunker and his lob-throwing point guard are out there. Maybe he simply wants to stay put.
Maybe Pierce already knows what he's doing next season. The Wizards remain confident in their chances.
But if the small forward is truly contemplating joining the Clippers, there is no maybe about him waiting on Jordan's decision before making his own. Pierce can visit LA in the offseason - or live their for good when his playing days are over. He can catch up with Rivers on the golf course.
His best bet for a title or at least a run to the conference finals between the two team exists in the Eastern Conference with Washington.
That's arguably true even if Jordan stays. It's certainly the case if he bolts.
MORE WIZARDS: Wizards grant Damion James 2nd chance to make roster