- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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The Dallas Mavericks are in the process of finalizing the signing of former New Jersey Nets first-round draft pick Sean Williams to bolster their frontcourt rotation, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.
After securing his release from Israeli club Maccabi Haifa over the weekend, Williams is scheduled to arrive in Dallas in time to complete his physical and join the team Wednesday after the Mavericks' preseason finale in Oklahoma City.
Sources said that the Mavericks plan to sign the shot-blocker to a two-year deal with only a partial guarantee for the second season.
The Mavericks are very familiar with the Mansfield High alumnus after his strong season in 2010-11 for the D-League's Texas Legends, who are co-owned by Mavericks president Donnie Nelson.
Nelson and Legends coach-turned-executive Nancy Lieberman have repeatedly expressed surprise that Williams did not earn at least one 10-day callup last season. In the midst of the five-month lockout in August, with no NBA season in sight at that point, Williams decided to sign with Maccabi Haifa for this season.
But sources said that Williams' agent, Bernie Lee, has successfully negotiated a buyout with Maccabi Haifa's American owner, Jeffrey Rosen, to enable the 6-10, 235-pound center to join the Mavericks.
Williams has been out of the NBA since 2010, when the Nets ran out of patience with the big man after a tumultuous two-plus seasons. But Mavs officials are confident that they can get the best out of Williams, given the year Williams spent playing for the Nelson-run Legends and with two former Nets veterans -- Jason Kidd and Vince Carter -- on the roster to mentor him.
Dallas has been looking hard for extra bigs even since creating two roster spots through the trade last week with Denver in which the Nuggets absorbed the contracts of Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer.
The Mavericks, sources said, initially pursued veteran big man Joel Przybilla for the role along with the Los Angeles Clippers and other teams. Przybilla, though, is taking his time to choose his next team after a variety of knee troubles. With no true center behind Brendan Haywood and the still-developing Ian Mahinmi, Dallas wanted to move faster.
Williams was the 17th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by New Jersey, only to see his pro career quickly derailed by discipline issues. Lieberman, though, has nothing but raves to describe Williams' bounce-back season in 2010-11 with the Frisco-based Legends, when he averaged 14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks and earned a spot in the D-League All-Star Game.
Williams also finished second in D-League Defensive Player of the Year voting behind Chris Johnson, who earned a late-season callup from the Portland Trail Blazers and found himself playing against the Mavericks in the playoffs.
3dMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon