Deron Williams had his mind made up to sign with his hometown Mavericks in the summer of 2012, but when the then 28-year-old showed up for a meeting with the team, Mark Cuban was nowhere to be found.
So when the 2012-13 season began, Williams was also a ghost in Dallas.
Instead, the star point guard agreed to a five-year, $98 million deal with the Nets, who traded for Williams in 2011 in a deal with the Jazz. Williams could have played in front of his hometown fans for the remainder of his career, but after the team owner didn’t show up for a meeting, Williams went with a different kind of familiarity.
“I think [Cuban] not being there kind of threw me off,” Williams said on The Ringer NBA Show podcast. “Because I was going to Dallas. I had already put an offer on a house in Dallas. It was contingent on me signing, but I was gone. I was ready to come home and play for Dallas, but I think after that meeting, I left the meeting and was kind of wishy-washy on what I wanted to do. I just went with comfort. I was comfortable there, I knew what to expect, I knew what was going on, so I chose there.”
It’s fair to say that had Cuban shown up, Williams’ career could have looked a lot different.
“I was very comfortable with ownership and management group in Brooklyn,” Williams said. “They kind of laid everything out for me and told me what their goal was and what they wanted to do, and then I went to my meeting in Dallas and Cuban didn’t end up coming to the meeting, so that was a little off-putting.”
Of course, things didn’t go smoothly in Brooklyn after Williams signed his mega contract. He was an All-Star for the Nets the year before he signed his deal, but his numbers quickly began to decline. Williams averaged 18.9 points per game in 2012-13, then 14.3 the year after, and 13.0 in 2014-15. By that season, Williams was shooting just 38.7 percent from the field, and the Nets decided to move on from both Williams and Joe Johnson, buying out Williams and backloading the remaining money he was owed, meaning Brooklyn paid Williams just over $5 million a year until this past summer.
With Williams waived by the Nets, he was finally able to represent his hometown team, signing with the Mavericks in the summer of 2015. But he could have had a lot more time in Dallas had he felt differently about that 2012 meeting that apparently didn’t include Cuban.
“I’m coming from a place where they’re kind of laying everything out and telling me what their process is like, and on the flip side it’s [Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson] saying ‘trust us,’” Williams said. “I get why he was saying that now, because of the track record. He has a great record, with what they’ve done and what they continue to do. I think it was hard for me to see that.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1