Deron Williams rejects Mavs; now what?

July, 3, 2012
7/03/12
6:22
PM CT
Deron Williams, the prized free agent of the summer and the Dallas Mavericks' great hope to pair with Dirk Nowitzki, has opted to re-sign with the newly minted Brooklyn Nets, a coup for a franchise desperately seeking relevance with a star.

Williams will be rewarded with a five-year contract worth close to $99 million. The Mavs were limited by the new collective bargaining agreement to an offer of four years and nearly $75 million.

The homegrown talent who starred at The Colony High School announced his decision on Twitter, saying: "Made a very tough decision today...." ,which was followed by a link that revealed the the Nets' new logo.

So now Brooklyn has its star and the Mavs, who were crowned champions less than 13 months ago and have since seen the title team dismantled by owner Mark Cuban to create cap space for the opportunity to chase a big fish this summer, come away empty-handed and scrambling around their own, completely foreign feeling of desperation.

Earlier Tuesday, Mavs sixth man Jason Terry, a member of both Finals teams and with the team for eight seasons, neared a three-year deal with the Boston Celtics for the full mid-level exception starting at $5 million. The Mavs are unwilling to go three years in order to maintain cap space necessary to offer a max contract next summer or beyond.

Mavs president of basketball Donnie Nelson, head coach Rick Carlisle and special consultant Michael Finley met with Williams for some two hours Monday and laid out the franchise's track record of consistent winning around Dirk Nowitzki. For years Dallas has tried to find a superstar to pair with Nowitzki, and they believed that Williams, with his roots in North Texas, would be the one to not only ride shotgun with Nowitzki in his final years, but take over the mantle as the leader of the franchise whenever Nowitzki should retire.

That will not be the case. With owner Mark Cuban in Los Angeles filming episodes of the TV show Shark Tank and Nowitzki enjoying some championship tennis at Wimbledon, the Mavs' work now begins in earnest to put a competitive team around their 34-year-old face of the franchise.

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will come up as the Mavs' next target, but acquiring the dominating center in a trade prior to this season will be virtually impossible because Dallas doesn't have the pieces to pull off a deal, at least not on their own. If Howard hits the free agent market in a year, the Mavs could well be in position to strike.

As for shoring up the point guard position, two-time MVP point guard and former Maverick Steve Nash has said he will be eager to speak with the Mavs in the case Williams remains in Brooklyn, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein. But Nash already has a formidable, three-year, $36 million offer from the Toronto Raptors, and the New York Knicks are doing everything in their power to acquire the 38-year-old All-Star.

If Nash is not the answer, then maybe Goran Dragic is. The Houston Rockets point guard emerged last season and drove up his stock. It appears he could be on his way out of town and has already met with the Phoenix Suns, the team that traded Dragic to Houston.

As for Jason Kidd -- the Mavs' starting point guard since he arrived in a trade from the Nets in February 2008 -- he will not follow Williams to Brooklyn, which ate up potential cap space for the 39-year-old when it used its full mid-level exception to sign Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic.

Kidd is now said to be choosing between staying with the Mavs or possibly signing with the Knicks and possibly playing with the Jeremy Lin, assuming New York matches any offers coming to the restricted free agent. Lin is reportedly going to visit Houston on Wednesday. Kidd made an appearance on a San Francisco sports radio station Tuesday and said he's concentrating on getting a deal done with the Mavs and even said he would like to get into the front office when he retires.

Williams' rejection could open the door for 6-foot-3 combo guard Delonte West to return to Dallas.

The Mavs could choose to fill out the roster much like last season, with low-salary players on one-year deals to keep cap space ready for next summer's free agent class that could be headlined by Howard -- who still wants to be traded to the Nets (and still might) -- Chris Paul, James Harden and David West.

Of course, at the time Cuban decided not to re-sign Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and others from the title team, Paul and Howard were part of this free agent class, so there are no guarantees.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.9 4.5 1.7 34.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 9.3
StealsR. Rondo 2.0
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4