DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers once his buyout with the Detroit Pistons is formally completed and he clears waivers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Jordan was traded to the Pistons on Friday in a move designed to clear salary for a Nets team that was already deep into the luxury tax. The Pistons will pay the bulk of the $20 million remaining on his deal. The Lakers will pay Jordan his minimum salary of $2.6 million.
The Lakers suddenly have a fairly crowded center rotation. Multiple reports have suggested that the Lakers plan to use Anthony Davis as a center more often this season, and they already signed Dwight Howard earlier in the offseason to play a major role off of their bench. Marc Gasol is still technically on the roster as well, though reports have indicated that he is no longer a lock to return to Los Angeles last season.
On paper, Gasol is a far simpler fit for this roster than Jordan is. The addition of Russell Westbrook has forced the Lakers to emphasize shooting with their role players, and Gasol is the only big man on the roster besides Davis that can hit 3-pointers. His passing was extremely valuable for Los Angeles as well last season, and while he has lost quite a bit athletically on defense, Jordan has as well.
The theory behind Jordan’s fit likely goes back to the 2020 championship team’s emphasis on physicality. The Lakers played Howard and JaVale McGee big minutes on that team. Jordan is stylistically similar to both. He can catch lobs, block shots and bang with other big bodies in the post so that Davis doesn’t need to as often. He struggled in such a role with the Nets, however, and didn’t play a single postseason minute for them last season.
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But Jordan is a revered locker room presence and was close friends with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. After losing Jared Dudley to the Mavericks in a coaching role, there is genuine value in adding a strong teammate like Jordan. He spent the first decade of his career in Los Angeles as a member of the Clippers. Now he will return there to don the purple and gold.