The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly pulled off a trade before NBA Free Agency officially opened, sending Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Marcin Gortat. While it makes sense on the Clippers side in that the team’s roster is perimeter-heavy and both players involved are on expiring contracts, the deal could also have direct impact in the future of All-Star big man DeAndre Jordan.
Within the reporting on the trade, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted that Jordan could be a trade candidate for the Clippers, even if he chooses to exercise a $24.7 million player option before the deadline of June 29.
Gortat gives the Clippers a starting-level center should DeAndre Jordan opt-out of his $24.7M contract before Friday’s deadline. Even if Jordan opts-in to the deal, the Clippers and Jordan would work together to find a trade out of Los Angeles before — preferably well before the February trade deadline.
The notion that Jordan would exercise the option in search of a trade is not new, especially on a market that may not allow him to command a starting salary of nearly $25 million. However, this is fairly definitive in that it implicates both sides seeing that goal and the addition of Gortat as a league-average starting center would allow the Clippers to have more flexibility while also attempting to “win now” for the 2018-19 season.
Washington’s side of the swap involving Gortat and Rivers is arguably more interesting in that the team’s future plans are murky at best. For Los Angeles, though, this could potentially signal the end of the DeAndre Jordan era and that wouldn’t necessarily change if he opts in to his sizable contract option for next season.