Exclusive: 2 Fastballs In Mavs Pitch To Deron
Who will be at Deron Williams' East Coast doorstep at midnight, July 1, to begin the courting of the 27-year-old point guard? Or, as DFW is "home'' to Williams, will the Dallas Mavericks have to only travel to his mother's home in The Colony to make "The Pitch''? It's so early in this process that the Mavs don't even know which doorstep to camp on. …
In Mark Cuban's early days, when the club hoped to sign Joe Smith, team employees were urged to line up at DFW Airport with welcoming signs.
When the Mavs chased Marcin Gortat, they dispatched coach Rick Carlisle to Florida to romance him.
When it was time to make sure Dirk Nowitzki was to re-up, the Mavs arranged for a light show from the skyscrapers in downtown Dallas -- a plan crushed when The UberMan begged the team to snuff out the plan like a useless cigarette butt.
Last summer, Cuban headquartered himself in Southern California. That's where Tyson Chandler was hanging out and that's where Caron Butler's agent was stationed, too.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles ... recruiting, coercing, romancing ... Yes, Mark Cuban has tried to play coy about Dallas' Plan A, insisting that he doesn't even have one.
But the truth is, Plan A is not a secret. What's left to be determined isn't the desired destination, only the preferable path.
And DB.com now has some details on two of the bricks Dallas will put down to create that hoped-for path.
The Mavs will pitch the involvement of their owner (Cuban is as hands-on as they come, while the Nets' Mikhail Prokhorov makes infrequent trips to The States while involving himself in business, politics and playboying in his native Russia). And the stability of the coaching situation (Carlisle has his ring and a new four-year deal; the Nets' Avery Johnson is ... well, still growing into the job). And of course there is Dirk Nowitzki, the best player Deron will have ever passed to and the best teammate he will ever have.
Which franchise has the building blocks needed to contend? Which front office has a championship pedigree?
As we've detailed before, the contract available is essentially locked in. If Deron returns to the Nets, he can get a five-year deal totaling $98.77 million. If he moves to a new team, something he will explore when free agency commences on July 1 (and a process he plans to have done by July 5, before reporting to Team USA for the Olympics), he will get four years and $73.35 million.
BRICK 1: One aspect of "The Pitch'' will be about additional money.
If he wishes, Deron Williams can own the endorsement market in this region. Tie him in with the two-time AL champion Rangers, and/or with the Dallas Cowboys -- winners of an ESPN poll as the country's most popular football franchise, winning more votes than three entire NFL divisions -- and Deron can be Dirk ... or Aikman ... or Staubach ...
We alluded to this angle in our "World Wide Wes'' exclusive: The Mavs are preparing to detail to Williams and his camp (led by agent Jeff Schwartz and now including, we have learned, powerbroker William Wesley) how the Mavs have the second-strongest base of corporate sponsorship in the NBA. That is one way to earn additional money. (Having Deron's pal Jerrance Howard now working as a basketball assistant at SMU, where booster pockets are deep, is also involved here).
The state income tax of 8.6 percent in New York (compared to zero in Texas) and the cost of living in the New York area, said by some to be 44 percent higher than in DFW, are two financial issues the Mavs will use to attempt to offset the fact that Deron's existing employer can give him an extra year on his contract.
Furthermore, while Brooklyn players will be competing with Knicks players for endorsement attention -- and competing, too, with the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Devils, Islanders, Rangers and in a sense, Broadway, too ... Dallas offers a clearer path to branding. In New York, it's going to be "Knicks vs. Nets,'' and the Nets are destined to lose. In Dallas, where Deron grew up a fan of the local teams and remains a passionate Texas Rangers follower, the franchises can work together for a shared good.
The Mavs will be bringing out the big calculator here. And allow me to make a very specific educated guess: If Deron does sign with the Mavs, another announcement will be forthcoming: He'll have a lucrative regional or possibly national deal with a luxury automobile company, too.
BRICK 2: The "18-Minute'' Factor''
And then -- again putting aside the chance to compete for titles, which Dallas believes it will do in The Deron Era, and also setting aside for a moment the finances involved -- there is the other brick in "The Pitch.''
Financial opportunities? Dallas will do its best.
Family and comfort? Dallas will say it IS best.
Williams has frequently expressed his desire to land somewhere where he and his wife can comfortably raise their four children ... the same way his mother raised, and is raising, Deron's family in The Colony, Texas. Deron's mom lives in a $229,000 home her son purchased for her in 2007. It is the sort of lovely home that would cost four times that amount if located in New York/New Jersey neighborhoods where pro athletes reside.
And it is located in a community 18 minutes from the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas.
How significant is that to Deron? The Mavs will find out when they pitch the 'family'' aspect of their appeal:
While gorgeous and massive apartments can be had in Manhattan, players with families in New York often live in suburbia. Their trek from their homes to the team facility is a distant one, so much so that on gameday, a morning shootaround requires a player to depart his home at the same time his children leave for school ... and then fight traffic in order to make the practice session. … The shootaround is over and now it's noon. What does he do? Go home for lunch with the wife and then a nap? No. the Big Apple distance is too great, the traffic too congested, the trip time-consuming and too stressful to add to the pile of gameday concerns.
So customarily, he checks into a hotel room in the city nearby the arena (provided by the team) and eats and tries to rest there. Then he gets to the arena, plays his game, and maybe by midnight, after more time, travel and congestion, is home by midnight, just in time to kiss his wife goodnight and not see his children again.
That's very much a Knicks scenario. Knicks players often live in Westchester County because that's near the practice facility. But the practice facility is an hour's drive away from Madison Square Garden.
For the Nets, certainly there are ways around this. The new Barclays Arena and the team headquarters are not in one building but are a few minutes' drive from each other. So it's more convenient than the Knicks setup but arguably not as simple as in Dallas, with its one-stop-shop arrangement. And as for living arrangements, a Nets player could live in nearby Brooklyn Heights, though that area is devoid of the mansions or even McMansions usually favored by athletes earning $17 million a year. Or some Nets players might continue to live in New Jersey, on the other side of the Holland Tunnel.
The Mavs might be erring of they try to convince Deron that the logistics of New York/New Jersey should represent a dealbreaker/dealmaker for him. But undoubtedly, inconvenience, especially as it relates to family life, is not Deron's ideal here. The Mavs are hopeful that being able to actually live 18 minutes from the arena/team headquarters (or even eight minutes away, as is the case for Nowitzki) has great appeal to Williams. Spend home-game afternoons in a hotel? In Dallas, the Mavs will remind him, Deron can sleep in, participate in shootaround, lunch at home, pick up his children from school, play the game at an AAC he has already says he loves and be back home to watch himself on the Mavs postgame shows on FoxSportsSouthwest.
I don't know that these two aspects of "The Pitch'' will be enough to sway Deron Williams; as Deron himself so often points out, nobody knows, yet. I just know that these two bricks will be put down as part of the path to Dallas, as part of "The Pitch'' to Deron.
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