|Deron Williams is sticking with Jay-Z and the Nets rather than Mark Cuban's Mavericks. (Getty Images)|
Mark Cuban was too busy listening to pitches to make one of his own, and that just might have cost his Dallas Mavericks their shot at Deron Williams.
Over the summer, the Brooklyn Nets' All-Star point guard narrowed his free agency choices to two teams: Brooklyn and Dallas. When the free agency period opened and it came time to meet with both of his suitors, Cuban was reportedly not in attendance because he was in Los Angeles for a taping of "Shark Tank," his reality television show about entrepreneurs and investors.
The New York Times reported Monday that Williams said Cuban's absence was a factor in his decision to re-sign with the Nets.
Asked if Cuban's absence affected his decision, Williams said flatly, “Of course.”
“A lot of the questions that me and my agent had for them really didn't get answered that day — you know, pertaining to the future,” Williams said. “And I think if he was there, he would have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. Maybe would have helped me.”
Williams said the message he received from Nelson and Carlisle was, instead, “Just trust their track record.”
“I can honor that, because they do have a good track record. But it's not enough for me to switch organizations, especially when Billy was updating me daily,” Williams said, referring to Nets General Manager Billy King.
ESPNDallas.com reported Monday that Cuban took the high road in response.
"I'm very happy with the ways thing turned out for the Mavs and wish D-Will the best," Cuban said via email from Barcelona, Spain, where the remodeled Mavs play an exhibition game Tuesday.
Williams signed a 5-year contract with the Nets worth $98 million back in July. The Mavericks could only offer Williams $75 million over four years due to Collective Bargaining Agreement rules.
Here's a fairly straightforward question worth asking in light of Williams' comments: What would likely be a bigger deciding factor, $23 million or a potential boss's absence from a key meeting? The money, of course.
The inherent financial advantage wasn't going to keep Williams by itself. The Nets really did everything right, assembling a win-now play that involved re-signing Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries and landing All-Star guard Joe Johnson by trade. With aggressive dialogue aimed at retaining Williams, a big money advantage, a big move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, plus the reshaped roster, that's an attractive package.
If there is one owner in the NBA capable of making the pitch necessary to overcome that stacked deck, it's probably Cuban, but he didn't even bother. Perhaps he could already read the tea leaves; perhaps he simply couldn't get away from his obligations. Either way, all involved parties move forward. There's no turning back now.