This NBA Offseason, Everything Hinges on Deron Williams.
By Thom Fain on Monday, July 2, 2012 at 5:47 PM
Since their early exit from the playoffs at the hands of Kevin Durant's Thunder, the Mavericks have been a busy team.
In last week's NBA draft, the team held the No. 17 overall selection, their highest draft position since 2000. They used it to pick University of North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, but only held onto his rights briefly before turning that sole pick into three others.
By shipping Zeller off to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Mavericks were able to walk away from the draft with three solid set pieces: Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham (the 24th overall pick) and high-value, early second-round selections Florida State center Bernard James (a 27-year-old Air Force veteran) and Marquette forward Jae Crowder (the reigning Big East Player of the Year).
Better yet, Dallas was also able to deal away the oft-ridiculed Lamar Odom to the L.A. Clippers in a four-team deal, shedding his contract in the process. The deal also them netted them the rights to Tadija Dragicevic, who has played in Europe since being drafted by Utah in 2008.
Of course, the biggest news surrounding the Mavs (and possibly the league) right now is the fate of free agent Deron Williams. The two-time NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist raised in Dallas suburb The Colony recently announced that he has officially narrowed down his possible destinations to two: his current team, the new-to-Brooklyn Nets, and -- huzzah! -- Your Dallas Mavericks.
With the possible exception of an unlikely trade involving long-disgruntled Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, Williams' decision is looking like the biggest story of the offseason. The true point guard is the most talented and most well-known commodity available in this summer's NBA free agency period. And he's currently 100 percent in the national basketball spotlight. Not only will the contract he signs dictate market value, but two of the potentially biggest organizations in the league and their fans are all eagerly (and perhaps frustratingly) awaiting his decision.
But, really, how good of a chance do the Mavericks have at landing Williams?
With Nowitzki now home in Germany after the finish of his Heroes Celebrity Baseball game and Mark Cuban out in L.A. taping his reality show -- something about sharks, we hear -- the team is relying on president Donnie Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle and former franchise player Michael Finley in the team's latest attempt to court the All-Star.
That crew is meeting with D-Will today, actually. Maybe even at this very second.
But there are, let's be honest, plenty of hurdles in their way.
Nowitzki himself explained the Mavs' predicament most bluntly last week: "[We have] a great owner, great organization, great fans," he told ESPN Dallas. "It's just a matter of does he want to come home and be close to home, or does he rather want to make the move to New York and get probably more endorsement deals and stuff like that?"
Nowitzki's spot on with that assessment, folks. As in most cases like this, Williams's decision will likely come down to dollar signs.
But that doesn't mean Dallas as a whole can't try to convince him otherwise. And to the sports scene in Dallas' credit, the rest of the teams in town appear fully on board with helping the Mavericks' cause.
At a home game last week, the Rangers lit up their scoreboard with a Happy Birthday message to Williams, even going so far as to outright ask that he "Be A Maverick!" Meanwhile, Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant hopped on Twitter just yesterday, making his plea to Williams: "@DeronWilliams Dallas fans are waiting on your arrival."
That's a lot of Williams love right there -- and from all angles. Here's hoping he feels it.