Clip­pers pull all the stops in bid to re­tain Jor­dan

Clip­pers en­list ac­tor Foxx to help per­suade the free- agent cen­ter to stay with team.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Ben Bolch and Brod­er­ick Turner ben. bolch@ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ latb­bolch brod­er­ick. turner@ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ BA_ Turner

The team has a Hol­ly­wood star at­tend a din­ner with the cen­ter in an ef­fort to re- sign the free- agent vet­eran.

Doc Rivers tapped into Hol­ly­wood in his pur­suit of DeAn­dre Jor­dan, invit­ing Academy Award- win­ning ac­tor Jamie Foxx to a re­cent din­ner with the un­re­stricted free agent at a swanky Mal­ibu res­tau­rant.

It was just the start of the drama sur­round­ing Jor­dan’s de­ci­sion about where to spend next sea­son.

Jor­dan, 26, has also been wooed by a star- laden cast, in­clud­ing the Lak­ers’ Kobe Bryant, the New York Knicks’ Carmelo An­thony and the Dal­las Mav­er­icks’ Chan­dler Par­sons, each of whom has pitched the cen­ter on the idea of join­ing their re­spec­tive teams.

The Clip­pers have made it clear that re­tain­ing Jor­dan will be their top pri­or­ity once the NBA’s free- agency pe­riod starts at 9: 01 p. m. PDT on Tues­day. Rivers and team owner Steve Ballmer are among a con­tin­gent of Clip­pers of­fi­cials sched­uled to meet with Jor­dan on Thurs­day in the Bev­erly Hills of­fice of his agents.

Their pre­sen­ta­tion is ex­pected to in­clude a video tout­ing Jor­dan’s ca­reer with the Clip­pers and the ben­e­fits of stay­ing with the only fran­chise he has known in his seven NBA sea­sons.

It will hardly be the only pitch Jor­dan will hear this week. He is also sched­uled to meet Wed­nes­day with the Lak­ers, Mav­er­icks and Knicks, all of whom could of- fer Jor­dan a more prom­i­nent role in their of­fenses than a Clip­pers team heav­ily re­liant on All- Stars Chris Paul and Blake Grif­fin.

Ac­cord­ing to league of­fi­cials who were there, Paul spoke with Jor­dan on Satur­day dur­ing an event in Santa Mon­ica, at­tempt­ing to mend a strained re­la­tion­ship.

A per­son close to the sit­u­a­tion la­beled the Clip­pers and Mav­er­icks as the fron­trun­ners for Jor­dan, who said in March he would seek a long- term con­tract but could in­stead seek a short­term, op­tion- laden deal be­cause of his youth and the dra­matic rise in the NBA salary cap over the next few years. Play­ers can be­gin sign­ing with teams July 9 af­ter the league- man­dated mora­to­rium pe­riod on for­mal com­mit­ments ends.

The Clip­pers can of­fer Jor­dan, a Texas na­tive, larger yearly raises than other suit­ors in a multi- year con­tract, although the Mav­er­icks could largely off­set the dis­crep­ancy be­cause there is no state in­come tax in Texas.

There are a hand­ful of fac­tors that could work in the Clip­pers’ fa­vor. Jor­dan has a strong affin­ity for Rivers, the coach who helped mold him into a mem­ber of the NBA’s all- de­fen­sive f irst team last sea­son, and has en­joyed be­ing part of the Clip­pers’ trans­for­ma­tion from league laugh­ing­stock to con­tender in the Western Con­fer­ence.

“This place has been great to me,” Jor­dan said last sea­son. “We were 19- 63 my rookie year. I’ll never for­get that. We were bad. But I feel like ev­ery year that I’ve been here we’ve got­ten bet­ter. This be­ing Year 7, we can only im­prove. Peo­ple want to come to the Clip­pers now, so that’s a whole change in it­self.”

Jor­dan is not the only Clip­pers free agent the team has in­ter­est in bring­ing back. The team would also like to re- sign guard Austin Rivers and for­ward Glen Davis, though it can of­fer Rivers only up to $ 3.1 mil­lion for next sea­son be­cause of NBA rules re­lated to his pre­vi­ous con­tract in New Or­leans.

The Clip­pers have eight play­ers un­der con­tract for next sea­son and have glar­ing needs at start­ing small for­ward and the backup point guard, power for­ward and cen­ter po­si­tions. A league source said the team had in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing a re­serve point guard to pair with Rivers, likely sig­nal­ing its in­ten­tions to trade star sixth man Ja­mal Craw­ford.

A trade in­volv­ing Craw­ford could help the Clip­pers ac­quire a start­ing small for­ward or cre­ate a traded-player ex­cep­tion that would al­low the team to later trade for a player be­ing paid up to $ 5.8 mil­lion next sea­son.

The Clip­pers’ pri­mary tool in their pur­suit of free agents is the so- called min­imi­dlevel ex­cep­tion of $ 3.37 mil­lion per year for up to three years. Their f inan­cial f lex­i­bil­ity wouldn’t im­prove much even if Jor­dan signs else­where. Un­der that sce­nario, they could of­fer the full mi­dlevel ex­cep­tion of $ 5.4 mil­lion per year for up to four years, still be­low the av­er­age NBA salary of about $ 6 mil­lion for last sea­son.

The Clip­pers have strong in­ter­est in vet­eran Paul Pierce, who de­clined his $ 5.5- mil­lion op­tion with the Washington Wizards to be­come a free agent. Pierce could be slot­ted into the start­ing small for­ward spot va­cated by the de­parted Matt Barnes, though there would be con­cerns about the dura­bil­ity of a player who av­er­aged a ca­reer- low 26.2 min­utes per game last sea­son and turns 38 in Oc­to­ber. Other tar­gets at small for­ward in­clude Mike Dun­leavy Jr. and Gerald Green.

The Clip­pers will also be as­sess­ing play­ers on a sum­mer league ros­ter that in­cludes for­ward Royce White, a 2012 f irst- round draft pick who has played in only three NBA games largely be­cause of is­sues re­lated to so­cial anx­i­ety dis­or­der.

White f lew from Los An­ge­les to Or­lando, Fla., on Mon­day, as if to un­der­score that f ly­ing long dis­tances is not an is­sue. His agent, Brian Brundage, said White would be will­ing to take the Clip­pers’ char­tered f lights if the team signed him and would not ask for any spe­cial ac­com­mo­da­tions.

Wally Skalij Los An­ge­les Times

DEAN­DRE JOR­DAN is test­ing free agency af­ter spend­ing his seven NBA sea­sons with the Clip­pers.

Robert Gau­thier Los An­ge­les Times

PAUL PIERCE, a free- agent for­ward, is draw­ing strong in­ter­est from the Clip­pers.

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