CHARLOTTE, NC – If any network were to wait for work vacation until next year, it could have been DeAndre Jordan. He signed up to play with friends Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but Durant never adjusted and Irving is now out for the year, making Jordan the last man left.
Instead of going on cruise control, Jordan was the veteran leader and didn't get the networks to fall into the trap of seeing this injury-related campaign as a lost year.
"DeAndre was great. DeAndre should play with KD and Ky and he plays with another team," said coach Kenny Atkinson. "I was so pleased with his spirit and attitude and how hard he plays and helps our defense, his rebound. "
After Jordan wasn't enthusiastic about last season's Tanking Knicks, his involvement was worrying. Atkinson admitted this this summer, but was happy with what he received in that department.
"You see it correctly in two ways? He is doing his job. He should do that. On the other hand, we know that it can be done differently, ”said Atkinson. "The proof is in the pudding. We finish the games with it.
"I'm getting to know him better in terms of personality and getting to know his game better … He understands that he has a real leadership role with a lot of young people around him. He took it seriously. He takes it as a personal challenge, this team respectively. "
Jordan scored an average of 11.8 points and 14.5 boards in his last four games against the Hornets on Saturday. The 37:04 he played on Thursday is the most he has logged since November 19, 2018. But it wasn't just Joel Embiid's job. It's a Jordan thing.
"It has grown and it is a credit to him. He is forcing us to play him with his really outstanding game more. It is as simple as that," said Atkinson. "We have a two-headed monster in the middle position. But it is more as a matchup-based: It was earned through its outstanding game. "
Increasingly only one of these heads has a bite. Atkinson used Jordan in the fourth quarter and sat Jarrett Allen, who went goalless on Thursday.
Jordan's mobility is no longer the same as it used to be, but he keeps shooting instead of blocking it. His 23.8 percent rebound rate is second in the NBA this season, and his field goal percentage of 0.669 is the highest ever.
"Oh man, veteran leadership, since he's a bigger body, he can resist a man like Joel [Embiid]"Spencer Dinwiddie said." His rebound and field goal percentage are among the best ever, only dynamic on the defensive. "
Joe Harris could stand in line for an increase in his $ 7.6 million deal as an unrestricted free agent this off-season. But he said he'd like to go back to Brooklyn, partly to play with Durant and a healthy irving.
"Definitely. Why wouldn't you?" Said Harris. "They are incredible players. They see what they can do when they are healthy and play. I don't think there is anyone in the NBA who doesn't want to play with these guys."
Bobby Marks of ESPN – the network's former GM assistant – said Harris could cover a wing requirement for Charlotte and be on the radar.
"There just aren't that many teams able to get Joe Harris this summer," Marks told the Observer.