It’s one of the underreported stories (and there are a lot of them still) of the Nets free agency is how DeAndre Jordan will fit in their plans. The Nets new superstars both gave up millions in guaranteed money to help Jordan get a four-year $40 million contract, starting somewhere around $9.3 million this season.
Jordan, who turns 31 next week, has been a starter in every game he’s played since April 6, 2011. Last season, when the Knicks decided to play Mitchell Robinson at center, they simply sat Jordan. He got a DNP-CD in 12 games Robinson played. And although he averaged 11 points and 13.1 rebounds last year, word was, as Brian Lewis reports, he had lost a step defensively. Still, those numbers are better than his career averages and Jordan finished third in the league in rebounds per game and rebound percentage, fourth in rebounds per 48.
Jarrett Allen, on the other hand, has two big things going for him. He is the incumbent starting center and 10 years younger than his new teammate. Allen did not approach Jordan’s rebounding numbers, but he was a better offensive player, averaging 11 points but with a more advanced repertoire of moves and a developing three-point range. Still, he finished 22nd in the league in rebounds per game, 20th in rebound percentage , 23rd in rebounds per 48.
The one area where Allen does have a defensive advantage over Jordan is in blocks. Allen was 12th in the NBA, Jordan 30th and in block percentage the disparity was similar, No. 8 for Allen, No. 29 for Jordan.
The Nets aren’t talking (can’t actually) about how the two will play. Jordan did defer to a much less sophisticated 21-year-old center across the river last season and the Nets need a veteran back-up now that Ed Davis has gone to Utah. Moreover, Allen has been practicing his three-pointers. And according to the Summer League roster stats released by the Nets, he’s put on 10 pounds since last season, checking in at 246. (That’s still 20 pounds lighter than Jordan.)
Where Jordan could help the Nets is in banging with the league’s more brutish bigs. That’s been a problem for the lighter Allen. Still, scouts who Lewis talked with suggest that Jordan is likely in a slow decline that could make his contract a bit of an albatross.
“They end up giving him a ridiculous contract because those guys are like, ‘Here, take some money.’ That’ll end up looking stupid when the Nets need to upgrade the roster more,” said one Eastern Conference exec. “DeAndre’s fine for a backup center, I guess. He just doesn’t seem to have much left in the tank, whereas Allen is blossoming.”
But a western conference scout told Lewis he thought the two could accommodate each other and the Nets desire to find a way to stop bulky bigs from dominating.
“It may be matchup-based,” he said. “Teams don’t generally do that, but obviously [Joel] Embiid had his way with Allen. DeAndre Jordan is taller, longer, physical bigger; he can match up better. Would they do that, ego sensitivities being what they are? You generally go with one starter.”
Lewis asked the same scout if he thought Jordan would go along with a secondary role after being THE guy in the middle for so long.
“I think in this dynamic — he’s playing with his buddies — yes, I do. Every player wants to play. Since they’re all kumbaya, you’d think Jordan can accept a lesser role,”
Kumbaya aside, there’s also the business side of things, starting with Allen’s contract situation. He will be eligible for a contract extension next summer, one that will start in 2021-22. He’ll will need to prove himself this season if he wants to sign a new deal. Jordan, of course, is set. His contract doesn’t have any team or player options.
As we’ve said before, sign them all, let Kenny sort it out. He’ll have to!
- Nets’ Jordan-Allen battle brewing — even if it shouldn’t be - Brian Lewis - New York Post