The Los Angeles Clippers returned from their longest trip of the season in February having lost five of their eight games. But DeAndre Jordan posted some of the best numbers of his career over the stretch, including a 22-point, 27-rebound, 3-block effort in a win at Dallas to finish the trip.
The core of the team had been together for more than three years, and tempers were wearing thin. Jordan and Chris Paul had gotten into it more than once, which led Jordan to start seriously contemplating what it might be like to play elsewhere in 2015-16.
He was tired of Paul's constant barking and petty gestures, like distributing high-fives to the three other guys on the floor following a timeout but somehow freezing out Jordan. Optics aside, the biggest issue for Jordan was that, despite the leaps and bounds he made to be named first team all-defense, the Clippers always treated him like the player he was when he arrived in the NBA, and never like the player he'd become.
Meanwhile, the Clippers' meeting didn't include a single player. Griffin, of course, was in constant touch with his confidant, but Paul was off in the Bahamas with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Paul made only half-hearted attempts to reach out to Jordan late in the process, according to sources close to the process. At a certain point, the balance of affection tipped, and there weren't enough dinners at Katsu-Ya or testimonials to Jordan about how much he'd flourished under Rivers' development to keep Jordan in Los Angeles.
Jordan looks to step out of Clippers stars' shadows