NBA fans and writers weren't the only people following "The Indecision" today on Twitter. Executives from around the league kept a close eye on DeAndre Jordan's almost unprecedented decision to back out of his verbal agreement with the Dallas Mavericks to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
While you can debate all day about the ethics of his choice, it's also important to discuss with how this affects each organization involved. While it might not be obvious to the casual fan, Jordan's move alters the value of the 2016 Dallas first-round pick the Boston Celtics acquired for Dwight Powell and Rajon Rondo last December.
The pick is top-7 protected through 2020, and then unprotected in 2021, meaning the presence of Jordan on the Mavericks made them an almost-guaranteed playoff team. Before his decision, the Celtics were realistically looking at acquiring a pick in the 15-25 range from Dallas in 2016.
As we saw in this year's draft, with the Celtics reportedly offering six picks to move up, some organizations don't place significant value on those mid-to-late picks. Now that Jordan is back in L.A., and so many players have signed already, the Mavericks have limited options.
They're presently rolling with a roster featuring a 37-year-old Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons coming off knee surgery, Wes Matthews rehabbing from a torn Achilles, and role players like Devin Harris and Jeremy Evans. In the loaded Western Conference, that is clearly not a playoff team.
That's why Mavericks owner Mark Cuban openly admitted after he thought they signed Jordan that they would've tanked had they not signed the big man. This is where the situation gets complicated from a Celtics perspective.
The Mavs are worse by losing Jordan, but they aren't so horrible that they'll stink enough to have one of the five worst records in the league. This could mean that they end up finishing in the 8-11 spot in the lottery, which would be a massive win for the Celtics.
In this situation, Boston would realistically have three first round picks in the top 20 of the draft, since they have their own pick, which could fall in the 8-20 range, and Brooklyn's, which could fall anywhere from 1-14 if they struggle, as expected. This would put them in a paramount position to pounce on opportunities at the trade deadline or on draft night.
But there is the possibility Cuban follows through with his original plan to tank this season, which complicates the value of the top-7 protected pick.
"There's only going to be two, maybe three teams, that are going to be in that race to the bottom," Cuban said last week on the Bob and Dan Radio Show. "We said, ‘OK. This could be our David Robinson year.' We go out and get somebody that we can develop as opposed to that impact players."
If Cuban is ready to target the heir apparent to Dirk Nowitzki, maybe they unload Parsons and Matthews and end up with one of the worst records in the league. If the Mavericks did that, then the Celtics would have to wait another year to receive the draft pick, which would still be top-7 protected through 2020.
The 2017 draft is ripe with young talent, so long-term the Celtics could decide to hold onto the pick with the hopes that it lands in the 8-14 range. But rebuilds don't happen overnight, and unless the Mavericks had a successful 2016 free agency, they'd possibly struggle again, pushing the pick back to 2018.
But the Celtics are already fully prepared to offer a full a bundle of their picks to make an impact move. Danny Ainge is like a predator waiting for his moment to strike his prey, so there is no question he'd trade the Dallas pick if value can be acquired. Wondering when the pick will be conveyed could ultimately become another team's problem.
No matter what, the best-case scenario for the Celtics is that the Mavericks fail to tank or make the playoffs, placing them in the dreaded middle. They'd have maximize versatility and value entering the summer of 2016, making their swap of Powell (and Rondo) for Jae Crowder and the first-round pick an even greater landslide win for the organization.