NBA PM: Dallas Dodged A Bullet with Williams?
“I was always worried, just because that’s my nature. Until [Deron Williams] re-signed, I was concerned,” Brooklyn Nets head coach P.J. Carlesimo told Mark Hale of the New York Post yesterday. “Yeah, clearly being from Dallas and Dallas having a pretty good roster — they won the championship a couple years ago — I thought it was a viable option.”
Most people shared Carlesimo’s belief that Williams, one of the most highly-coveted members of last summer’s free agent class, might very well sign with his hometown team in Dallas. The Mavericks had gone to great pains to clear enough cap space to sign him, and their intention was to give Williams considerable input as to the make-up of a nearly blank roster built around him and Dirk Nowitzki.
If you believe Williams’ story, he was fairly convinced he would sign in Dallas, as well, until Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t show up for the meeting. Apparently whatever head coach Rick Carlisle and general manager Donnie Nelson had to say wasn’t convincing enough, and Williams flew right back to Brooklyn, where the Nets had just acquired Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks.
That could be the end of the story, but the media generally likes to bring up these things later, when the player in question plays the team from the city he spurned. Williams, however, is great at diffusing such things, and was customarily straight forward and to the point when he was asked.
“It’s just another game,” Williams said. “That’s behind me. I’m part of the Brooklyn Nets. There’s no reason to revisit that.”
That could be the end of the story, but of course, there is usually a better question to ask. What Williams thinks about his own decision is already on the record, but what if we take a look at his decision from another perspective? Would the Mavericks really be a better team with Williams at the helm?
As things stand, the Mavericks are 25-32 and well on their way to missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-00 season. After missing out on Williams and Dwight Howard, their initial targets for the offseason, they signed a plethora of one-year deals with players like Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand, and acquired their next starting point guard – Darren Collison – via trade from the Indiana Pacers.
By comparison, Collison’s season hasn’t been entirely different from Williams’ year. Collison is averaging 31.1 minutes per game, and in those minutes he’s giving Dallas 12.6 points, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 47 percent from the field, 90 percent from the line and 38 percent from three. Williams is playing five more minutes per game and averaging 17.3 points, 7.7 assists and 0.9 steals while shooting 42 percent from the field, 86 percent from the line and 37 percent from three. Collison’s efficiency rating is 14.86 to Williams’ 17.87.
Williams is the better player, of course, but not by as much as you might assume, especially considering that Williams has a much better team around him in Brooklyn.
So while many will be asking about Deron’s decision to re-sign with Brooklyn rather than join Dallas, it’s worth asking whether or not the Mavericks would actually be better with Williams running the show.
To start with, Williams makes close to $15 million more this season than Collison, who is still on his rookie deal. Signing Williams would have severely limited the Mavericks’ ability to add other places, meaning they would be doing battle each night with even fewer pieces in place to try and survive while Nowitzki was out with a knee injury. It’s difficult to imagine the Mavericks, with a hodge-podge of players under one-year deals, being more competitive than Brooklyn, where there are three other All-Star level talents around Williams.
Is it interesting to talk about what Dallas would look like with Williams in the mix? Sure. It’s just not safe to assume that the 25-32 Mavs would be remarkably better with one of their former hometown heroes. The Mavericks would most likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time even with Williams running the point. What’s more, it’s still very much remains to be seen whether or not Williams is the kind of player who will prove to be worth the $20 million per season he will make over the life of his Brooklyn Nets contract.
J.J. Redick Reflects on Orlando
J.J. Redick’s time with the Orlando Magic was a roller coaster ride that could rival anything at nearby Disney World or Universal Studios. From a trip to the NBA Finals to the Hedo Turkoglu situation and then Dwight Howard’s drama, Redick was right in the middle of the most tumultuous time in team history. In this HOOPSWORLD exclusive, Redick talks about living through the drama in Orlando and then eventually landing in Milwaukee:
Stan Van Gundy Empathizes With Dwight Howard
Former Orlando Magic and Miami HEAT head coach Stan Van Gundy was at the MIT Sloan Sports Conference this week taking part in a panel discussion about all things related to sports. As part of that conversation he started talking about how he related to his players, from Dwyane Wade in Miami to Dwight Howard in Orlando, and he had some interesting things to say.
“I think you form relationships in talking to people and talking about what they’re going through,” said Van Gundy. “There are cases where you can’t protect them from certain things. Dwyane, especially early on, he had a bad playoff game his second year after we swept the first two playoff series. We’re playing Detroit and they did a very good job on him. He had a very bad game in Game 1, and he was honest in saying it, too, so my thing was that I had to find a way to put him in spots where he could be successful. You can take some of the heat of off them in the on-court stuff, but the off-court stuff they’ve got to deal with on their own a little bit and a lot of it is unfair.”
“Sometimes, because these people are in the public eye, we expect them to act like they’re 45 or 50 years old and they’re 20-something years old,” Van Gundy continued. “Quite honestly, I thought Dwight got too much criticism for the stuff last year. He’s a 25-year-old guy who hasn’t been through the things we’ve been through. He was told by his agent and everyone else that he had leverage, so he tried to use it, never thinking it would all come to backfire on him. I was trying to think back to what I was like in my twenties and it’s scary. If I had been where people could criticize what I was doing in my twenties, it would have been awful.
“You know, we got Lamar Odom (in Miami) and he had this reputation. He was supposed to be this bad guy, and it was based on two things. When he was in college he didn’t like to go to school and he had been caught smoking marijuana a couple of times. So he was a bad guy, or at least that’s the recognition he got, and he is one of the greatest people I’ve ever been around. Good teammate, hard worker, easy to coach – all of that. I was thinking that if every 21-year-old who smoked pot and didn’t like to go to class was classified as a bad person, half of you would have to leave here right now. It’s unfair.”
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