Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is never shy about voicing his opinions, and he had plenty to say yesterday about his team's present, past, and future. Among the topics he discussed was the Mavs' failed pursuit of Deron Williams, who ultimately returned to the Nets. The move was viewed as a major blow to the Mavs' offseason plans, but Cuban insisted yesterday that the team might be in better position without Williams.
"In hindsight, I don’t know if I would have been happy," Cuban said of signing D-Will to a max-salary deal. "I think we’re in better position now then we would’ve been if we’d gotten him…. I don’t want to pick on Deron Williams because he’s a great, great, great, great player, so it’s not necessarily him, per se. Obviously the decision was to go for him. But the conversation was, 'OK, once you take $17.1MM in salary to what we have with Dirk [Nowitzki] and [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 $3.3MM mini mid-level."
It's easy to react to Cuban's comments by rolling your eyes and accusing him of trying to spin a negative into a positive. Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com was one scribe who wasn't buying what Cuban was selling, arguing that the owner's comments are "a lie at worst and disingeuous at best." Saying that the Mavs are better off without Williams is simply not true, according to Taylor.
I don't think the argument is quite that one-sided though. While it's true that pairing Williams with Nowitzki would have made the Mavericks' 2012/13 roster more dangerous, Dirk's best days are likely behind him. His production figures to decline sometime in the not-so-distant future, and when it does, the huge contracts doled out to Nowitzki and Williams would make it difficult for the team to add complementary pieces around its stars. At least without D-Will, the Mavs were able to maintain future cap flexibility, and could be in play for a maximum-salary player again next summer if they so choose.
So what do you think? Would the Mavs have been better off landing Williams and hoping they had enough pieces around their two stars to contend for a title? Or were they better off acquiring a handful of cheaper players on shorter-term contracts, hoping to stay competitive and flexibile going forward?