Mavs Fans Woo Deron But Nets Upset Dallas
Before, the game, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle spoke of "challenges'' (and hung out with Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth):
Never-before-seen "challenges''? Impossible-to-predict results? Prescient in the sense that losing to an awful Nets team is ... well, challenging to have predicted.
Meanwhile, old pal Avery Johnson was addressing some of his Nets issues, not the least of which is the Mavs' future flirtation with his star point guard:
Now, by rule, the Mavs cannot 'woo' Deron Williams away from the Nets. That's tampering and getting caught doing so risks losing any shot at the All-Star point guard. So instead, with the Nets in town, the Mavs allowed you to handle the wooing.
"It's a good win for us,'' said Williams, who reportedly has a destination wish list that includes Dallas. "A good win against a tough team, and a good way to start off the second half of the season.''
Did the championship banner help? Did the AAC atmosphere contribute? Did the vibe of Mav-turned-Net DeShawn receiving his ring in the Mavs' now-habitually classy way tug at the heart ... and maybe cause Deron to envision a similar scene in the future with him as the Mavs honoree?
It all went so well, including the late-game rally that brought Dallas back from a double-digit deficit to hold a one-point lead in the final minute. But NJ center Brook Lopez was the game's star with a career-best 38 points. All Williams had to do was feed the big man, and while Deron shot just 3-of-15 for 12 points, he also notched 12 assists.
This is the rare case for Williams with the 11-25 Nets, as they are generally a one-man show ... Williams as the show who needs a great deal of help to make his present team a contender. Next year, the Nets will move to a new arena, the Barclays Center, in a new hometown of Brooklyn. And their hopes are to retain the services of Deron and to acquire center Dwight Howard from Orlando as well – a plan that mirrors the Dallas Mavericks' desire to band together Deron and Dwight with Dirk Nowitzki for the 2012-13 season.
Increasingly, this is becoming the NBA's worst-kept secret. And on Monday and Tuesday, while the Nets were in Big D to begin the second half of the NBA season, some of the principles didn't bother whispering.
Williams was asked about the atmosphere at Dallas' American Airlines Center, where 20,000 Mavs fans made sure to greet him as warmly as they did Dirk.
"I always like playing (Dallas)," Williams said, mentioning the shooting background as being friendly to him. "It's my favorite arena - one of my favorite arenas to play in - probably my favorite to play in.''
And the fans?
"I just enjoy playing here - enjoy playing in front of my friends, family,'' said the native of The Colony, a Dallas suburb, who rented two suites at the American Airlines Center to accomodate his group. "It's always good to get the chance to come and see me play. .. Fans are great (in Dallas). It's always good when arenas have a lot of energy. Ours (the Prudential Center in New Jersey) doesn't have too much energy."
That could all change, of course, with a Dwight-and-Deron-led club on the big stage in Brooklyn. But even Nets coach Avery Johnson – a former Mavs coach – noted that the Dallas organization offers advantages for a player like Williams.
"For me personally, working for Mark Cuban, (Cuban) is a threat," said Johnson of the Mavs owner. "I know the guy. So I think because of the success he's had and I know he got criticized a lot for having all those years when he didn't win a championship. … But he's had some really great success here that rivals any situation, so that's a threat. And for us, we don't make any assumptions until we get Deron signed on the dotted line."
New Jersey's difficult spot there includes the timing of hoping dominoes fall just right. They greatly increase their chance of keeping Williams if they are able to acquire Howard before the March 15 trade deadline (as is the case with Dallas.) But Orlando doesn't seem willing to give up on its chance of contention while in-season.
That means the Nets will have to wait until the offseason to know about their star's plans. … and it arguably means they might get less in a sign-and-trade for him than they could gain now.
"I'm just trying to play out the season and look at my options after the season," Williams said, a decidedly open-minded approach compared to what he said during Nets training camp, when he termed his chances of staying in New Jersey at "90 percent."
The truth is, there are no guarantees here. Small-picture, this game proves that for a Mavs team that is off on the wrong post-break foot as the schedule demands they play nine of these things in 12 days.
(This outcome has another effect, bolstering Lopez' value as NJ dangles him in a Dwight trade.)
And there are no big-picture guarantees, either, not for the Nets or the Magic. Not for the Lakers (who want in on Howard). Not even for the Mavs, as openly as their courtship skills are being praised.
But there are connections: Dwight Howard's agent is the Mavs-friendly Dan Fegan. And the agent for Deron is Jeff Schwartz. Schwartz also represents the mysteriously on-leave Lamar Odom (which may explain why Dallas level of tolerance for Odom's oddities is so high). Oh, and Schwartz is also the agent for Jason Kidd, who is a golf buddy and big brother of sorts to Deron. Important to note: Kidd is the "big brother'' of hundreds of NBA players and has value to the Mavs as a "recruiting coordinator'' of sorts.
This much is fact: Contrary to many reports, there are ways for the Mavs to pare down their roster next summer in order to pay Dirk his $20.9 million while also getting Dwight and Deron just shy of their maxes (about $18 mil and $17 mil, respectively). Saying otherwise presumes a) that we know exactly what the cap will be, and we do not; and b) that there is a vast difference between "max'' and "close-enough-to-max,'' and only Deron and Dwight can make that determination.
A centerpiece of the 3D Blueprint is taking about this game, now ...
And what are Deron's thoughts as he ended his night in Dallas?
The wisest basketball minds see this possibility, and we leave it to the NBA king of BBIQ to prove it. Now, Kidd was a mess at the end of this game, making his only basket with an important 3 before being forced into two awful possessions that resulted in bad-shot bombs, a 1-of-7 shooting night and Dallas' 21-15 record. But he's still BBIQ ...
"Of course,'' Kidd said when asked if he'd be willing to take a demotion to serve as Deron's backup. "Because I know he'll play 40 minutes so I can give him an eight-minute break," said Kidd. "Wherever he ends up he's one of the top point guards in the league. If it's Brooklyn or Dallas, that franchise has a great point guard. … I'm ready to hand him the keys.''
For one night, all the Mavs could hand Deron Williams was an improbable win.
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