Dallas Mavericks fans may still be sore about missing out on star point guard Deron Williams in free agency last summer, but owner Mark Cuban sure seems to be sleeping well over not having Williams in the lineup.
Speaking to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas this summer, the vocal owner went so far as to say that his lottery-bound team was actually "in better position" without Williams on the roster:
I don’t want to pick on Deron Williams because he’s a great, great, great, great player, so it’s not necessarily him per se. Obviously the decision was to go for him. But the conversation was, "OK, once you take $17.1 million in salary to what we have with Dirk and (Shawn Marion), then what do you do?" That’s your squad. And it’s not just your squad for this year, it’s your squad for next year, other than the $3.3 million mini mid-level (exception).
So, that was a challenge that we had because we want to win. Everybody talks about Dirk’s window, but not only would it have been difficult to add players, it also would have been difficult to trade players. In reality, that was the same problem that Deron had. Because he looked and saw the same thing and said, "Now what are you going to do?"
Isn't the lack of a solid point guard the reason the Mavericks have struggled this season? Nothing against Darren Collison, but he hasn't been more than average in his first season in Dallas. Yes, the Mavericks rank ninth in assists, but Collison brings little to the table besides defense and three-point shooting.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Williams has posted 17.3 points and 7.7 assists per game. He's shooting just 42 percent from the field and has fought through various injuries, not to mention he could have been the reason Avery Johnson was fired in December. That said, Williams is still having a better season than Collison.
More importantly, note how Cuban essentially said that financial issues were the main reason the Mavs didn't push harder for Williams. Dallas has quite a bit of money coming off the books next season, and Cuban is expected to make a strong push for Dwight Howard in the offseason. The Mavericks have also been linked to Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, set to hit restricted free agency this summer (h/t Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News).
Are the Dallas Mavericks better off without Deron Williams?
Dallas wasn't willing to make a strong push for Williams but is completely ready to make one for either Howard or Jennings? Both players will demand max contracts in July, so Cuban's words about Williams make no sense.
It also doesn't help his case that the Mavericks are currently 25-32 and five games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The same team that won a championship in 2011 is now fighting for its life, and all because Cuban couldn't make a meaningful pitch to Williams for what he's now calling financial reasons.
He had better hope that the Mavs' 2013 summer is more fruitful, or else he's going to have some explaining to do once Dallas prematurely enters a rebuilding phase.