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Monday, July 9, 2012
Donnie Nelson: No offseason regrets

By Jeff Caplan
ESPNDallas.com

Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said he and owner Mark Cuban have no regrets about plotting a strategy that included dismantling the 2011 title team in order to pursue a star free agent this summer.

The plan backfired last week when three-time All-Star and Dallas-area product Deron Williams chose to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets.

"No, shoot, we were on the 5-yard line and felt good about it," Nelson told Chuck Cooperstein and Tim MacMahon on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. "We were in a position to get a superstar, which is how you win championships in this league, so there are no regrets, none whatsoever. We would have done everything the same way. We didn't punch it in the end zone. You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or pick yourself up by the boot straps and jump back in the saddle."

During Team USA's training camp over the weekend in Las Vegas, Williams told reporters that he was close to choosing Dallas, but that he made up his mind after meeting with both clubs last Monday and after the Nets pulled off a trade to acquire All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson.

Into the second week of free agency, the Mavs have not agreed to terms with any players and have just seven players under contract. They also are set to lose free agents Jason Terry and Jason Kidd to other teams.

Nelson said the plan now is to fill the roster for next season via free agency or trade with young players on short-term deals. The goal is to keep Dallas' cap space available for a maximum-contract free-agent push next summer when Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Chris Paul could all potentially hit the market.

"I said it before, to win in this league, to win championships, you've got to have stars and so we're looking at the possibility of doing that via trade. We've got some (trade) exceptions that we have," Nelson said. "If there's some young players that we think have upside and can be rotation players and we can pick off some of those (in free agency), yes, we're in the market for that. But, we won't do anything that will jeopardize the opportunity to get a star."

Any notion that the Mavs might be willing to completely rebuild and seek a trade for star Dirk Nowitzki is off base, Nelson said. Nowitzki has two years remaining on his contract and is one of only two players in the NBA, along with Kobe Bryant, to have a no-trade clause in his contract.

"We're absolutely not looking to tear up the season next year," Nelson said.

Nelson said "with a little luck" the Mavs can extend their franchise-record 12-year playoff streak. He reiterated that the organization will be equipped to pursue star free agents again next summer.

"We're in a position, especially with the way the new CBA is going to kick in next summer, we're in a position to have flexibility," Nelson said. "Look, it didn't work out for us in the short term. All you can do is move on. We were in position to get the job done. We respect (Williams') decision. It's something that's a tough pill to swallow, but at this point we're on to the next options."