Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban quickly moved on from the club's failed bid to land point guard Deron Williams. But he's holding a grudge against Jason Kidd, the championship point guard who surprisingly backed out on a deal to return and signed with the New York Knicks.
Cuban, during an appearance Tuesday morning on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Ben & Skin Show," said the Mavs actually might be better off without Williams, the homegrown talent and three-time All-Star the Mavs hotly pursued in free agency. Cuban claimed a max contract for Williams would have created tricky salary-cap ramifications and made it difficult to build a championship-caliber roster around him and Mavs stalwart Dirk Nowitzki.
"I don't want to pick on Deron Williams because he's a great, great, great player, and so it's not necessarily him, per se," Cuban said. "The conversation we had going back and forth -- and obviously the decision was to go for him -- but the conversation was, 'OK, once you add $17.1 million in salary to what we'd have with Dirk and Trix (Shawn Marion), then what do you do?' That's your squad. And it's not just your squad for this year. It's your squad for next year other than the $3.3 million mini midlevel.
"So that was a challenge that we had because we want to win, and everybody talks about Dirk's window. Well, not only would it have been difficult to add players, then it also would have been difficult to trade players, and in reality that was the same problem that Deron had. Because he looked and saw the same thing and said, 'OK, now what are you going to do?'"
Williams ultimately agreed to stay with the Brooklyn Nets, signing a five-year, $98 million deal, one year and about $25 million more than the Mavs or any other team could offer.
The Mavs recovered by trading for point guard Darren Collison, signing shooting guard O.J. Mayo and center Chris Kaman, and acquiring power forward Elton Brand in the amnesty waiver process. All of those players are under contract for only the 2012-13 season, leaving the Mavericks with flexibility to pursue marquee free agents such as Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum next summer.
Cuban was criticized for not leaving the filming of his TV show "Shark Tank" in Los Angeles to join the team's recruiting party in Manhattan to meet with Williams on July 2. Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle and consultant Michael Finley met with Williams before Nets officials did soon after that.
"Obviously, I had a conflict, but I was texting him," Cuban said. "We were going back and forth quite a bit."
Cuban said he's not sure he could have swayed Williams' decision had he been there, but he now acknowledges he's glad it worked out the way it did.
"Maybe, you know, because I always think I can close a sale," Cuban said. "But in hindsight, I don't know if I would have been happy. I think we're in better position now than we would have been if we had gotten him."
As for Kidd, who was prepared to sign a three-year, $9 million deal with the Mavs before backing out the next morning to accept essentially the same deal with the Knicks, Cuban is still fuming at Kidd's handling of the situation and said there's no chance he'll consider retiring Kidd's No. 2 jersey.
"I was more than upset. I thought he was coming. I was pissed," Cuban said. "J-Kidd is a big boy; he can do whatever he wants. But you don't change your mind like that. That was ... yeah. I'm sure I'll get over it at some point, but as of now, I wouldn't put J-Kidd's number in the rafters.
"It hurt my feelings, period, because I felt that we had developed a relationship, and I thought that he was committed to the organization. It sure seemed that he was. I mean, J-Kidd was active in going out there and talking to Deron Williams the whole time. I guess it was more shocking and surprising than anything else."