Dallas Mavericks lose key starter to hated rival in free agency

Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Jones Jr.
Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Jones Jr. / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

NBA free agency was relatively slow on opening day due to the impending Paul George decision, but Dallas Mavericks fans started to get plenty of news and rumors as the night went on.

It all started when the Mavs signed Naji Marshall to a three-year, $27 million contract. Dallas had been linked to Marshall for some time now, and they gained an energetic lockdown defender who can also drain open threes off the catch.

While adding Marshall was a huge move, this signing signaled the end for a fan-favorite forward in Dallas.

Derrick Jones Jr. signs with LA Clippers

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Derrick Jones Jr. "plans to sign a three-year, $30 million deal" with the LA Clippers. This deal stings considering it ends Jones Jr.'s beloved time in Dallas, but it also stings because he just signed with arguably the Mavs' biggest rival.

Dallas losing Jones Jr. was expected after the Marshall signing, and this was a complete curveball. Jones Jr. openly wanted to be back in Dallas, and the Mavs wanted him back as well, but things must have changed today.

One thing that affected Dallas' ability to re-sign Jones Jr. was him switching agents right before the start of free agency, and the Mavs didn't have time to wait around. They elected to roll with Marshall, and although seeing Jones Jr. leave will upset fans, Marshall isn't a bad alternative.

Jones Jr. will be missed for his lockdown defense and energy, and seeing him sign with the Clippers is a tough moment for Mavs fans. Jones Jr. signing with LA will only intensify this heated rivalry, and these two teams are poised for plenty more intense matchups.

Dallas finally got their revenge on the Clippers in the first round of last year's playoffs, and Jones Jr. was a big part of that. Things change quickly in the NBA, and now Mavs fans will have to get used to seeing a fan-favorite player suit up for one of Dallas' biggest rivals.

It won't be easy for Mavs fans to see Jones Jr. in a Clippers jersey, but the future is bright in Dallas regardless.

For all the latest on the Dallas Mavericks all offseason long, stay tuned as we'll have you covered.