All the Mavs free agents say they want to be back, because that's what those guys always say.
Of all the Mavs free agents, Donnie and Rick say they want them all back, because that's what those guys always say, too.
Reality: Well, if Dallas really brought back in 2016-17 the same team that just got ousted in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, Dallas wouldn't be good enough in 2016-17.
So there are financial realities, business realities and realities of self-interest that cause Deron Williams to decide to opt out (as ESPN has noted) ... and that cause the Mavs to pass on having a non-Bird cap hold of about $6.5 mil.
The latter would offer no real benefit to the Mavs; such a non-Bird hold merely gives a team the ability to sign their player to a deal up to that very amount, and is only helpful if a team is otherwise over the cap and their own free agent will be available for that amount or less.
But we've never thought either of those was going to be true with Dallas and D-Will, because even with his sports hernia surgery on the horizon, there was never going to be a reason for him to exercise his player option that would have paid him only $5.6 million, and the Mavs never were going to have a reason to use a cap hold and then use cap room to re-sign him if they want to keep him.
The $5.6 mil? That's not Deron's goal. The $6.5 mil? That's not Deron's goal. The NBA's cap numbers are ballooning. Guys with a shot at free agency want ... free agency.
Williams, 31, says, "This has been a great year for me as far just being happy and enjoying playing basketball again. And enjoying all the guys on the team and the coaching staff. It’s been a great situation. ... I would love to be back. This was a great year for me and I’m definitely happy here. My family is settled and happy. So it definitely would be great to be back.”
And that MIGHT be his goal ... but this is one last bite of the contractual apple for the faded star who reinvented himself in his first year back in his hometown -- and, he hoped, reinvigorated his reputation (injury problems notwithstanding), too. To me, taking guesses at his potential salary is kind of of a silly game except to know that it'll be north of the $5.6 mil and the $6.5 mil. More silly: Predicting what that salary will be should he be retained by the Mavs. In fact, as sincere as Williams' intentions might be, I won't even fall for the "hometown'' thing, having heard that a few years ago with the DFW native had a chance to come home but instead stayed in Brooklyn, which was neither "home'' nor a winning program.
(Am I bitter here? Or am I just the only one who has come to realize that outside of Dirk, there is no real loyalty that's proven itself to be part of this process, for Dallas or mot anyone else?)
What can the Mavs "afford''? Guess away, but if they are able to sign a big fish (center or forward) and it's max money, there might only be $6 million left to pay a point guard. And by the time all that shakes out, Deron might have been lured elsewhere. Dallas might also try for a big-fish point guard like Memphis' Mike Conley, in which case they'd pretty much offer Deron ... well, like, pretty close to nothing.
And even if we go back to scrap-heap time at point guard, a younger version (like Jeremy Lin, who Dallas liked much better than Deron last summer) might make more sense for the same money.
So, no, the only guarantees here with Deron Williams are the no-brainers that he's opting out and that he's not being "cap-held'' in. And besides his bet on himself, the rest of the bets are at this early stage anybody's guess.