Occasional chatter about the possibility Durant might leave the two-time defending champions was quickly disproved as he became one of the first players to agree to a new 2018-19 contract. The only drama here was how long a contract Durant would sign, and in turn how much he would make.
Both the Rockets and Paul should be able to find reasons to feel good about this deal, making a strong compromise. Paul gets his max salary, joining fellow point guards Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook as the three players currently set to make more than $35 million in 2018-19. (LeBron James should soon join them when he agrees to a new contract.)
That bit of bookkeeping aside, this deal seems reasonable for Dallas. Jordan’s ability as an above-the-rim finisher in the pick-and-roll remains as good a fit for the Mavericks’ offense now as it was in 2015. Jordan averaged 1.3 points per play when he shot out of the pick-and-roll last season, tying him for seventh among players with at least 100 such shot attempts, according to Second Spectrum tracking. Dallas big men, by contrast, averaged 1.1 points per play in those situations — right around league average.
Jordan’s block rate declined nearly by half to a career-low 2.4 percent of opponent 2-point attempts, far worse than the average for centers (3.5 percent).
Blocks are an imperfect measure of rim protection, certainly, but Jordan’s more advanced metrics weren’t strong either. The 63.9 percent opponents shot within 5 feet when Jordan was the primary defender put him only 31st of the 36 players who defended at least 300 such shots, per Second Spectrum tracking on NBA Advanced Stats.