As Marc Stein wrote today,the Clippers are trying to convince DeAndre Jordan to change his mind about signing with Dallas, and instead return to Los Angeles. Can they do that?
The answer is yes, because the league is in a dilemma here. They want to have their cake and eat it too.
Normally, verbal agreements get applied to the cap. So, for example, when the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard verbally agreed to a max contract, the dollars from that max contract should have gone on the team’s cap — and as a result, they wouldn’t have room to sign LaMarcus Aldridge.
But the CBA makes clear that but for a few exceptions (like signing first round draft picks), there shall be no agreements, written or verbal, during the July Moratorium. This is how the league gets away with not applying Leonard’s salary to the Spurs’ cap — there’s no agreement in place, and therefore nothing on which to base a cap change.
Free agent agreements made during the moratorium are ephemeral — they’re ghosts, illusions — agreements that aren’t really agreements.
Thus the dilemma — if there’s no agreement, then what is a player like Jordan from reneging if he changes his mind?
The league likes to treat agreements made during the moratorium like they’re commitments, but they’re not. In other words, the league wants to have their cake and eat it too — there’s no agreement in place, but you can’t back out of this non-agreement either.
So if Jordan ends up returning to the Clippers, it will have interesting consequences. The July Moratorium will become more of a free-for-all. You think you have a player locked-up, but he’s not really yours until after the moratorium ends, and you have what can officially be termed a verbal agreement. Or better yet, pen to paper. It will become par for the course for teams to try to poach players after they’ve decided to go elsewhere.
“On prospect of DJ back to Clippers, triggering other deals to change, “This could [F] up the whole league” – off record NBA exec,” tweeted Eric Pincus.
I wouldn’t quite go that far, even though I agree that the assumption of security in agreements that aren’t really agreements will be shattered.