Leading Off

In the NBA, is a deal really a deal?

Love him or hate him, Mark Cuban got fleeced.

The Dallas Mavericks’ owner agreed last week to give free-agent center DeAndre Jordan $80 million over four seasons to lure him from the Los Angeles Clippers.

We figured the billionaire could afford to overpay for a big man who averaged 15.0 rebounds last season but has a limited offensive game. Sure, he made 71.0 percent of his shots, because most were dunks, but he made just 39.7 percent of his free throws, which made him a liability in the playoffs.

Then, just hours before contracts could be signed, Jordan, 26, reneged on his verbal agreement, deciding to stay with the Clippers after being wooed – held captive? – at his Houston home by coach Doc Rivers and players Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce.

Jordan reportedly refused to talk to Cuban and the Mavericks, who had hoped to sway him back to Dallas.

The bizarre evening become even more absurd when Griffin tweeted a photo of a chair lodged against a doorknob, we assume at Jordan’s home. “Don’t agree with the furniture layout,” Griffin wrote, “but I’m not an interior designer.”

All joking aside, Jordan’s reversal, while legal, is lame. He had a deal with the Mavericks and likely would have signed a contract if the NBA didn’t have a moratorium that ended Wednesday at 9:01 p.m.

Instead, since Jordan agreed to the deal with Dallas last Friday, these big men have made commitments or been acquired: LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs; David Lee, Celtics; Robin Lopez, Knicks; Roy Hibbert, Lakers; David West, Spurs; Bismack Biyombo, Raptors; and Kosta Koufos, Kings.

If Jordan had told the Mavs earlier in the week, they could have pursued other free agents. Instead, they are about $20 million under the salary cap, and all the quality bigs have committed elsewhere.

Isn’t it time the NBA modified its free-agency and moratorium rules?

Tom Couzens: 916-321-1097, tcouzens@sacbee.com, @tomcouzens

Playbook

  • WHAT TO WATCH: Las Vegas Summer League, Kings vs. Toronto, 3:30 p.m., NBA: It’s the first chance to see top draft pick Willie Cauley-Stein in action.
  • TWITTER CHATTER:“Dallas getting a blessing in disguise IMK. DeAndre Jordan is not a franchise player that you build your future around.” – @PrinceHAK33M
  • ON THIS DATE: On July 10, 1934, Carl Hubbell struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession, but the American League won the All-Star Game 9-7.
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