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Did Mark Cuban's role on "Shark Tank" cost the Dallas Mavericks a superstar to pair with Dirk Nowitzki?
Deron Williams told New York reporters Monday that Cuban's absence from the Mavs' free-agency pitch to the All-Star point guard "of course" impacted Williams' decision to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Mavs sent coach Rick Carlisle, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and front office assistant/former Mavs star Michael Finley to New York to try to woo Williams, a native of Dallas suburb The Colony.
Cuban was in California taping episodes of the ABC show "Shark Tank" at the time.
"I think (Cuban) would have been able to answer a lot of the questions me and my agent have for him that really didn't get answered that day pertaining to the future," Williams told reporters. "And I think if he was there he would have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. It maybe would have helped me.
"(I wanted to hear about) the direction of the future of the team, other than Dirk. Players they were thinking about. Everything was basically just their track record, trust their track record, which is, you know, I can honor that, because they do have a good track record but it's not enough for me, especially when (Nets general manager Billy King) was updating me daily."
Cuban fired back Tuesday, from Barcelona, Spain, where the remodeled Mavs are scheduled to play an exhibition game.
I think (Cuban) would have been able to answer a lot of the questions me and my agent have for him that really didn't get answered that day pertaining to the future.” -- Nets guard Deron Williams
"I'm a big D-Will fan, but I'm kind of surprised that he would throw his front office under the bus like that by saying that I would make a difference," Cuban said before the Mavericks' game against FC Barcelona Regal. "I would have expected him to say -- like I'd expect one of our guys to say -- 'Hey I'm so thrilled with the front office and the moves we made and our team that it wouldn't have mattered what he did.'"
Cuban said he's happy with the team the Mavs put together.
"Again, I'm a big D-Will fan, but it's not about individual players, it's about building a team. And I really think we put together a good team for the current team and the future."
Cuban was in daily contact with agent Jeff Schwartz from the July 1 opening of free agency until Williams made his decision less than a week later. Jason Kidd, another Schwartz client, also assisted in the Mavs' recruiting efforts of Williams, although Kidd later reneged on a commitment to return to Dallas and signed with the New York Knicks.
The Mavs stripped down the roster from their 2010-11 championship team to create enough space under the salary cap to make a maximum-contract offer to a superstar.
When the decision was made not to commit to Tyson Chandler and others, the Mavs hoped that Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Williams would all be on the free-agent market.
Williams ended up being the only available "big fish," to borrow a term from Nelson. He decided to stay with the Nets, who upgraded the roster by trading for Joe Johnson and his big contract, which helped convince Williams that he'd have a better supporting cast in Brooklyn than Dallas.
Cuban might have been able to change Williams' mind, but aside from some text messages, the brash billionaire owner didn't play a role in the Mavs' recruiting efforts.
Dallas rebounded by acquiring several veterans on short-term deals, including center Chris Kaman, shooting guard O.J. Mayo, point guard Darren Collison, forward/center Elton Brand and shooting guard Dahntay Jones.
The Mavs will have the financial flexibility to try to sign another superstar this summer, but Cuban insists he'd rather keep the current, lone-star Mavs' roster intact and give this core a chance to develop during the twilight of Nowitzki's prime.
ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Chuck Cooperstein contributed to this report.