Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
The Dallas Mavericks head to Barclays Center for the first time tonight to take on the Nets.
Of course, tonight’s game will hold a special significance for Nets’ point guard Deron Williams, who is from the Dallas area.
But more so than that, Williams was courted by both the Nets and Mavericks last summer when he was a free agent. He ultimately decided to return to the Nets for five years and $98 million.
Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban was surprisingly absent from the meeting with D-Will, as he was filming an episode of the reality TV show, “Shark Tank.”
Aside from dealing with injuries all season and going through a few cold shooting spells, Williams has settled in as a leader of the Nets. But would he have been better of signing with the Mavericks?
Heading into the season, Dallas had a much more playoff-ready roster than the Nets. Dirk Nowitzki will be a first ballot Hall of Famer when it's all said and done and he has been one of the league's most prolific scorers for the past decade. With Rodrigue Beaubois, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, Williams would have had a decent cast of running mates.
If the Mavericks could have still been able to acquire Elton Brand or O.J. Mayo—both of whom are on very reasonable salaries this season—the Mavericks may have been in business.
Every NBA player likely relishes the chance to hoist a championship trophy in their hometown. With some time and with Mark Cuban's shrewdness, Williams would have been afforded that chance in Dallas, especially since the Mavericks were only one year removed from defeating the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.
It’s been a bit of a struggle in Dallas this season as the team sits at 25-32. Nowitzki has missed 29 of the teams 57 games after returning late from knee surgery and then sustaining an adductor injury.
But with Williams, the loss of Nowitzki would not have been as costly for the Mavericks. He would have been able to pick up some of the offensive slack and get all his teammates involved.
In the short-term, Dallas probably made more sense for D-Will if he was seeking a championship right away. Don’t let this year’s results in Dallas dictate the team’s potential if it had Williams at point guard, especially since, even with Williams signed to a max. deal, the Mavericks would have been poised to have a lot of cap space in July 2014. That just so happens to be the summer when some of the NBA's biggest stars, including LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, could become free agents.
However, in the long-term, maybe the Nets were actually a better fit. The team has ownership that is not afraid to spend money and bring in quality players—evidenced by the blockbuster Joe Johnson trade. That trade likely proved to D-Will that the organization was serious about winning.
Though Johnson may be on the downside of his career, he is still a clutch player who is capable of hitting big shots. In two years, he, Williams and Lopez should have developed the chemistry necessary to compete as a top team in the conference and between now and then, the Nets will have a few first round draft picks to use to fill out the roster with quality players. Mirza Teletovic, Tyshawn Taylor and MarShon Brooks are all youngsters who have shown flashes. Two years from now, they will, in all likelihood, either be quality everyday players or would have probably been traded to bring in what could be the final piece or two for this Nets team to be taken seriously as a contender.
At that point, Williams will likely look upon his decision to sign in Brooklyn as the right one.
But had Cuban been present at that meeting and really pitched the idea of playing for the Mavericks, Williams could very well have been visiting Barclays Center tonight as a member of the opposing team.
Thank you Mark Cuban for letting one of the top point guards in the game remain in Brooklyn! And thank you D-Will for seeing past the short-term window for winning a championship in Dallas with the hope of bringing several titles to Brooklyn.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.