On Thursday night, as the Clippers went down 19 points to the Rudy Gobert–less Jazz, DeAndre Jordan had to play the role of chaperone, not player.
When Austin Rivers exchanged heated words with a courtside fan, Jordan rushed over and helped redirect Rivers toward the team’s bench. As he walked his teammate away from the fray, the hulking center took out his mouth guard and looked off into the distance.
Austin Rivers got into a discussion with a fan that ended with him saying "shut the f*** up" pic.twitter.com/mTJXC9x7PX— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 1, 2017
The exchange with the fan will likely cost Rivers some money, but it signaled the greater damage that’s already been done to the team’s roster.
This is the Clippers’ sad new reality, one in which every player is either injured, frustrated, or indifferent. With Blake Griffin out for what could be two months, the franchise has been engulfed in questions as the players remaining get run off the floor. Will management, at the behest of team historian Clipper Darrell, fire coach Doc Rivers? Will they blow up the roster and start again from the bottom up?
As rumors swirl about possible trades, including one that would send Jordan to Cleveland for a package headlined by Tristan Thompson, Jordan has played as if he’s in a constant daze.
“It’s humbling. It shows that other people want you and that you have value,” Jordan told BR’s Eric Pincus about the report. “It’s my 10th season. I’m happy here.”
But what value does Jordan, who doesn’t have an agent even though his contract only extends to a player option for next season, actually have?
Jordan has quickly gone from being the very large beneficiary of Chris Paul’s and Griffin’s brilliance to stuck in the center of a storm. Playing alongside a shot-hungry backcourt of Austin Rivers and Lou Williams isn’t exactly an ideal situation for a player who relies on entry passes and lobs.
Jordan is averaging 9.9 points per game, his worst mark since 2012-13. He’s turning the ball over more than last season, and though he’s averaging the same amount of rebounds per game, his total rebounding percentage has dipped. Even his defense, where he’s shined of late, earning spots on two All-Defensive first teams, has slumped. This season, the Clippers are somehow 4.2 points per 100 possessions better defensively when Jordan is off the court than they are when he’s on it. Jordan’s 108.8 defensive rating is also second-worst on his team among regulars, behind only Austin Rivers.
All told, the Clippers have gone just 4-12 since an encouraging 4-0 start to the season. On Monday, Jordan couldn’t contain his dissatisfaction to the bench.
DeAndre Jordan spiked a water bottle on the bench that rolled across the floor pic.twitter.com/kTPiNvTYQS— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 28, 2017
“It’s definitely tough, but I can’t give up on my teammates,” Jordan said. “I’ve got to stay positive, and hopefully it will turn around.”
If this keeps up, and the returns of Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic take longer than expected, Jordan may be looking for a full, Black Mirror–style reboot on the season rather than just a potential new home.