NBA Free Agents 2012: Can Dallas Mavericks Afford to Whiff on Deron Williams?

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NBA Free Agents 2012: Can Dallas Mavericks Afford to Whiff on Deron Williams?
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks have had a fairly rich history of stellar point guard play.

In the 1980's it was Derek Harper and Brad Davis.

In the 1990's it was Harper, Jason Kidd and Fat Lever.

And in the 2000's, it was Kidd, Steve Nash and Devin Harris.

Each of these players was an All-Star caliber player at some point of their career, and most of them made a significant mark on the league as a member of the Mavs.

Furthermore, each time one of the above was getting ready to move on, the Mavs were usually able to pivot into the next phase of great point guard play.

Sometimes the transition worked, and the Mavs barely skipped a beat. This happened when Kidd passed the baton to Nash or when Nash passed off to Harris.

Sometimes the transition didn't work, and the Mavs floundered.

This happened when Harper and Lever passed off to Kidd.

A familiar position

Now the Mavs find themselves in this familiar position.

Kidd has finally shown that he is no longer fit to run a championship caliber team, and the Mavs face a stark choice.

Either they can pull back the reins and attempt to draft a future point guard, or they can go outside the organization once again and bring in a point guard.

In the draft, the options are decent, but not game-changing.

Dallas will have the 17th overall pick, and while it is possible Kendall Marshall could slide to them, he is hardly a sure-thing to keep the Mavs competitive.

Dallas could instead look to trade for a point guard, but as this league has become much more guard-centric, there aren't a lot of teams looking to deal their top play-makers.

So this leaves free agency.

On this front, there really are only three options.

They could try to bring back Nash, and hope that his nearly 40 year old body can hold up for a couple more seasons of competition. 

They could get into a bidding war for one of the decent restricted free agents like D.J. Augustin or Aaron Brooks and hope that that player is a future star.

Or they could break the bank and bring in the only young, viable star point guard on the market, Deron Williams.

No option at all

If you are the Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the above scenario is not an option, but more a dire road map.

If you choose any option other than a full-court press to bring Williams home, you are doing two things.

One, you are playing Russian Roulette with your franchise, and handing over the keys to someone that will certainly have question marks.

And two, you will be wasting the last elite years of Dirk Nowitzki's career.

Dirk is 34 years old, but more importantly, he has 14 years of wear and tear on his body.

How much longer will he be an elite player? Three years? Four?

Williams is a win-now option.

He is already one of the top three point guards in the league, and he is only 28. 

He will certainly continue to be elite well-through the next five years, allowing the Mavs to truly capitalize on Nowitzki's remaining basketball life.

He also will bring out the best in aging veterans like Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Brendan Haywood.

Williams can get to the hoop at will, has the ability to see the entire court, and is a big, physical presence.

Players like Williams make those around them better, and players like those above need easy hoops at this point of their careers. Williams can do that.

The lure of Deron

In addition to what Williams brings to the table on the court, he also makes Dallas a more attractive destination for potential free agents.

As a player, you already know a few things about Dallas.

You know they have an incredibly rich owner that has the reputation for being a player-friendly executive.

You know they are only a couple years removed from a title.

And you know that Dallas is a fun, warm city with a great nightlife.

Add to that a superstar one-two punch of Nowitzki and Williams, and this all of a sudden becomes a great destination.

Over the next year or so, there will be a ton of great players becoming available. If the Mavs sign Williams, they will then be free to bring in a strong wing player like Josh Smith, Danny Granger, or Monta Ellis to name just a few. 

This must happen

The Mavericks must make this happen.

Williams is the only elite point guard that Dallas has a chance at getting right now, and he represents the easiest way for this team to stay competitive.

He will inject much needed youth into this team, and will set them up to build on this elite frame of Nowitzki and Williams.

Unless they are confident that they can pry Chris Paul away from the Clippers or perhaps Brooklyn or New York, they must find a way to bring Deron Williams home.

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