DeAndre Jordan heard the recruiting pitch from Jeff Green. He spoke at length with Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. He saw how scary Denver could be when he was healthy and wanted a piece of him.
Shortly after free agency began, the Nuggets and Jordan agreed to terms on a one-year contract for a veteran’s minimum salary, league sources said. Entering his 15th season in the NBA, Jordan is under no illusions about his role on the team. According to Jordan, Malone was honest and direct with her during several conversations.
“Well, he told me I’m going to start Nikola (Jokic) again,” Jordan said during a phone call with the Denver Post.
A former All-Star, gold medalist and All-NBA center, the 6-foot-11 Jordan knows his days of those awards are behind him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute to a championship-chasing team. a goal that eluded him throughout his career.
Green, who played with Jordan first on the Clippers and later with the Nets, sold him on the dedicated environment in Denver and the benefits of playing with (or in Jordan’s case, behind) Nikola Jokic.
“Obviously everybody knows Nicola is the head of the snake, so obviously my role is to come off the bench, help our second unit with tempo, screens and getting guys open, get guys better shots and also finish whatever I can. in transition, offensive rebounds, controlling the glass for our unit as well as being involved on defense while I was there.
Does that mean he’s comfortable not playing every night if Malone decides to?
His diplomatic response—”As far as personnel goes, that’s something we’ll get to”—revealed a veteran who knew his place.
Jordan was most recently a member of the 76ers after back-to-back seasons with the Nets followed by a brief stint with the Lakers. His production last season — 4.3 points, 5.5 rebounds — was a reserve still fighting for a spot in the rotation. The Nuggets see him as a rim-roller, screen-setter and defensive stopper, even at 34 years old. Malone, in particular, appreciates his vast experience and voice.
“It’s who I am as a player, as a person,” Jordan said when asked about being candid in the locker room. “From my time with the Clippers, I learned from some of the great veterans in my youth, how to be in a great locker room even when things don’t go my way. I’ve done that throughout my career and I think it’s something I’m proud of.”
No, the Nuggets are not trying to recreate the 2020-21 Brooklyn Nets, which featured Jordan, Green and versatile point guard Bruce Brown. But for Jordan, dating helps. When the Nuggets allow him to speak, it should help that he has several established connections within the organization.
“No, we want to be the 2022-23 Nuggets,” he said.
Jordan replaces DeMarcus Cousins, who had a productive but mercurial performance last season. In Jordan, the Nuggets hope they’ve landed a center who can stop the revolving door of backup options over the past few seasons.
At this stage in Jordan’s career, his motivation is singular. He has nothing more to prove, just one last thing to achieve.
“I’m going into my 15th year, man, I was a second-round pick, I’ve done a lot of great things in this league, both individually and with the teams I’ve been involved with,” Jordan said. “I don’t put pressure on myself to prove something. I know what kind of player I am. I know the respect I have from myself and my peers… (Winning a title) is still the only thing that drives me at this point in my career.