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Jordan isn't first player to waffle over verbal agreement

POSTED: Jul 9, 2015 10:33 AM ET

By Steve Aschburner

BY Steve Aschburner

NBA.com

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Summertime, and reneging is easy ...

Actually, reneging isn't easy or at least it shouldn't be. Generally it means a person's word is not, in fact, his bond. The character red-flags that get raised once one's verbal assurance or one's handshake is found to mean nothing often never can be lowered, no matter how much paperwork or how many heavyweight lawyers stack up on one side of the dispute or the other.

The news of DeAndre Jordan changing his decision to sign in free agency with the Dallas Mavericks and return to the Los Angeles Clippers has Jordan joining some other famous NBA mind-changers, word-breakers and do-over-ers.

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That they spring so quickly to mind for so many demonstrates how indelibly this sort of business skullduggery etches itself into the sport's collective memory. As former Nets executive Bobby Marks noted via Twitter, the Clippers' involvement in rushing to re-recruit Jordan at the last minute, violates one of the NBA's "unwritten rules." Or as an unnamed source said of Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie after the Sixers allegedly reneged on a pledge to Andre Kirilenko to let him out of his contract in January, "[He] doesn't seem to realize you have to deal with these people over and over."

As the Jordan tug-of-war played out Wednesday, it was interesting to recall some of the details and rhetoric from other NBA misdirections.

Boozer jilts Cavaliers, signs with Utah

In the summer of 2004, Cleveland had an option to keep forward Carlos Boozer for $700,000, a modest salary for 2004-05 given Boozer's 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds during LeBron James' rookie season. Instead, with what was reported to be a handshake deal with Boozer and agent Rob Pelinka on a six-year, $41 million package, the Cavaliers released him from that one-year contract. Instead of re-upping, though, Boozer signed a six-year, $68 million deal with Utah.

Cleveland rightfully felt burned, even though technically their wink-wink arrangement would have violated NBA salary-cap rules. Boozer got dropped from the agency that represented him, SFX, and Pelinka resigned, nods to the ill will generated by their shady maneuver. And Gordon Gund, the Cavs' owner, wrote an open letter to his team's fans, a precursor of Dan Gilbert's LeBron-jilted, comic-sans angst six years later.

"I decided to trust Carlos and show him the respect he asked for," Gund wrote. "He did not show that trust and respect in return."

Brand spurns Clippers for Sixers

In July 2008, the Clippers thought they had their inside-outside needs taken care of, cutting deals with free-agent guard Baron Davis and re-upping forward Elton Brand. Instead, Brand made a late call to pass on L.A.'s five-year, $70 million deal, grabbing an $82 million offer over the same number of years from Philadelphia.

Brand's agent, David Falk, said his client merely reacted to a take-it-or-leave-it approach by the Clippers. "You don't expect a team to give a franchise player an ultimatum," Falk said. "You wouldn't expect the Lakers to do that with Kobe Bryant. You wouldn't expect the Heat to do that with Dwyane Wade."

The Clippers disputed Falk's characterization of the talks. "After I supposedly gave him a take-it-or-leave-it offer, we raised the offer to $75 million and $81 million," said Mike Dunleavy, then the Clippers coach and GM. "They can spin this thing any way they want to try and spin it. The bottom line is, anything Elton ever wanted I did it for him. They stopped having communication with us more than a week ago."

Shrugged Brand, after choosing what was the stronger team (Sixers) at the time: "It's negotiations."

Turkoglu -- and wife -- pick Toronto over Portland

Hedo Turkoglu was a hot commodity as free agency opened in July 2009. Early in the process, the 6-foot-10 forward went to dinner with Portland coach Nate McMillan and GM Kevin Pritchard, telling them, "I want to be a Blazer." Then he abruptly broke off further talks and signed a $53 million sign-and-trade deal with Toronto.

The alleged reason? His wife preferred that cosmopolitan city to the lifestyle their family would have in the Pacific Northwest. The only problem was, his wife and their young daughter stayed in Orlando the next season, anyway, and Turkoglu said his wife never mentioned a preference.

"Don't know who made that story about my wife," Turkoglu told reporters when he and the Raptors visited -- to a chorus of Blazers fans' boos -- that season.. "She would love it here. Or anywhere. The last second Toronto came in and it felt like a good fit -- East Coast-style. I thought I fit good. My wife never said she didn't like to be in Portland."

The Blazers, who also lost out in a bid for Paul Millsap, signed Andre Miller instead. They got 13.3 points and 6.2 assists out of Miller over two seasons, while Turkoglu was traded after just one season -- 11.3 points, 4.6 rebounds 4.1 assists -- to Phoenix.

Those three switcheroos have had company through the years. And the misdirections have cut every which way. The Atlanta Hawks felt burned by Greg Anthony back in 2000. The Orlando Magic felt the same way seven years later when coach Billy Donovan got cold feet and retreated back to the University of Florida.

Hinkie incurred Kirilenko's wrath last winter, and former Clippers owner Donald Sterling had to be sued by former coaches such as Dunleavy and Bobby Weiss after refusing to pay them guaranteed money owed beyond their firings.

As far as the Clippers' full-court press in trying to bring Jordan back home -- coach/GM Doc Rivers reportedly was joined by several players in traveling to Jordan's home in Houston -- one similar instance occurred in 1999. That's when Antonio McDyess was being wooed back to Denver, the team with whom he spent his first two seasons before a trade to Phoenix.

The NBA was in full scramble mode coming out of a lockout that cut the schedule to 50 games. So it was January, and when an indecisive McDyess -- in Denver to meet with the Nuggets -- reached out to teammate Jason Kidd by phone, the Suns sprang into action. Kidd, Rex Chapman and George McCloud grabbed a flight to Denver, then pulled up to McNichols Arena in a rented limousine. In a snowstorm.

That's as far as they got, too. Dan Issel, Denver's coach and GM, knew the Suns were coming for McDyess, so he instructed security and ticket vendors -- the Colorado Avalanche were playing at the arena that night -- not to let Kidd, Chapman or McCloud into the building.

McDyess wound up signing with the Nuggets, keeping his verbal commitment.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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