Landing big fish causing anxiousness in Big D
June, 27, 2012
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
As Sunday's start to free agency creeps closer, even Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson wasn't afraid to admit that he's gone white-knuckle regarding Deron Williams' long-awaited decision to either be Brooklyn-bound with the Nets or join his hometown Mavs.
"Shaking in my Lucchese’s (boots) right now as we speak, and yes they are Lucchese’s," Nelson said Wednesday during his annual pre-draft talk at American Airlines Center.
And why not? Nelson and the Mavs know their future hinges greatly on the coming decision from the local product from The Colony. The Western Conference is under new rule from the kids to the north, and it's going to take star power to compete with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Without naming names, Nelson nailed the importance of corralling the All-Star point guard.
"Our priority is, when free agency hits, to get the most high-impact player that we can," Nelson said. "We’ve got a really good supporting cast. You’ve got Dirk (Nowitzki) playing at a high level and will for the next three years. You've got Shawn Marion, guards, 1s, 2s and 3s, and if we get the right quarterback I think we’re right back in the saddle."
Recent reports have certainly painted Williams as leaning toward a return to the Nets as they are set to open the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Last week, Williams was photographed there in a hard hat to pick out his locker stall. On Tuesday night, Nets coach Avery Johnson attended an intimate dinner for Williams' 28th birthday. Still, Williams has remained silent about his future, and on Twitter he's publicly tried to convince the masses that he remains undecided.
Maybe he is. Williams will become a free agent Sunday, which is the first day teams can talk to players and agents. His decision could come as early as Sunday, but if not, he is not expected to dawdle. Williams wants to make a decision before July 5 when he joins Team USA's training camp. Plus, the longer he waits, the more difficult he makes it for whichever team he choices to move forward with its roster strategies.
"No feel at all for that," Nelson said of when Williams' decision will come. "We'll wait for the right answer as long as we have to. ... We’re in position. That’s all you can ask. So, you know, we’re hopeful and we just got to play it out."
The Mavs also have their own free agents to either sign or let go. If Williams re-signs with the Nets, that might signal Jason Kidd's departure, as he has long talked about playing with Williams either in Dallas or Brooklyn. Jason Terry, who has spent the last eight seasons in Dallas, could also be on his way out.
Nelson wouldn't talk about his own free agents and he's prohibited from talking about outside free agents such as Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, who is also set to become a free agent and recently said he will look at every option presented.
"That’s one of the things where you put your best foot forward, and I think people understand the kind of franchise that Mark (Cuban) has built here through the years," Nelson said in terms of attracting high-profile free agents. "They understand that we got a guy like Dirk Nowitzki and all the other veteran players that have come through here and have had terrific experiences, winning experiences, Finals experiences, championship experiences, not to mention the quality of life. I would think that we would rank high on a lot of free agent lists; certainly the tax free, warm weather doesn’t hurt, as well. Ain't no place like Texas.
"That’s a decision for those free agent players. It’s a personal one, and we’re just going to put ourselves in the best possible position."
Finally, on Sunday, all these questions will begin to have answers.