Friction between DeAndre Jordan and Brooklyn Nets started in 2019

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 16: DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 16: DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets finally got rid of a contract that made it very hard for them to remain financially flexible when they parted ways with DeAndre Jordan. Jordan, who joined Brooklyn on a four-year deal the same summer that friends Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant arrived in New York, was quickly rendered irrelevant after just two seasons.

Jordan did not provide the necessary interior defense that was required of him to bolster a squad deficient in that area, and his inability to contribute on offense outside of easy putback dunks meant that he fell out of the playoff rotation in favor of the more agile Blake Griffin. 

Jordan landed on his feet with the Los Angeles Lakers, insisting that he, Irving, and Durant are still friends outside of basketball and that their decision to part with them didn’t impact that. While there is no love lost between Irving, Durant, and Jordan, some rumors claim that he didn’t always vibe well with everyone in that organization.

According to the always reliable Anthony Puccio in his “The Association” newsletter, Jordan actually had some issues with the Nets dating back to his first season with the club. This makes the decision to suddenly pivot and get rid of him in the manner that they did even more abrupt and shocking.

DeAndre Jordan might have had some friction with the Brooklyn Nets.

Puccio is reporting that Jordan was irritated with the fact that former head coach Kenny Atkinson decided to play the younger, leaner Jarrett Allen at the starting center while sticking the veteran on the bench, even going so far as to voice his displeasure with this arrangement to those around him.

When the Nets were demolished by the Grizzlies in a 39-point loss that saw Jordan score just 2 points in 13 minutes, Atkinson reportedly asked for an open dialogue with Jordan about the current situation, but Jordan sat silently with a disgruntled look on his face.

Later that season, Atkinson was fired, and you can bet that Durant and Irving had to sign off on that move before it happened. Could Jordan’s frustration have influenced that decision? Perhaps Atkinson’s refusal to put Allen on the bench in favor of Jordan was the final nail in his coffin.

The Nets replaced Atkinson with Jacque Vaughn, who inserted Jordan back into the lineup. While he was given chance to prove he can be a starter for this team, Steve Nash eventually ran out of patience, choosing to let the Lakers attempt to turn him into a better defender at this stage of his career.

Of all the players on the Nets’ roster who played at least 20 games, Jordan had the worst defensive rating at 114.8. With the yin-yang combination of Griffin’s scoring ability and Nicolas Claxton’s penchant for shutting down opponents on the defensive end working well, Brooklyn didn’t miss Jordan much when he fell out of the lineup.

While Durant and Irving should be commended for helping their buddy get one last long-term deal, Jordan just never really felt like a fit in both an Atkinson or Nash offense that wants to run the floor and shoot as much as possible. Jordan is probably better off as a backup with LA at this point in his NBA journey.

If Puccio’s reporting is to be believed, Jordan and the Nets seemed doomed from the start. At the very least, the Nets were able to make lemonade out of lemons in this situation, getting a young player like Sekou Doumbouya while doing right by their stars and allowing their friend to sign with a team just as capable of winning a championship as Brooklyn is.