Sunday, July 1, 2012

Report: Williams to meet Monday with Mavs, Nets - Fort Worth Star Telegram

DALLAS -- Monday could be the day the Dallas Mavericks discover if stripping their championship team of Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson was worth it.

The Mavericks' decision not to offer any of those players a multi-year contract last off-season was the main reason they were able to clear salary cap space and be a major player in the free-agent market.The cap space was produced primarily to put them in position to sign Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams.Williams told ESPN on Saturday that he will meet with representatives of the Mavs and Nets on Monday before deciding which team he'll join, adding that he is leaning toward one but refused to say which one. The free-agency period began at 11 p.m. Saturday CDT.Mavericks free-agent point guard Jason Kidd will join whichever team Williams chooses, sources told ESPN. Williams, however, said he and Kidd aren't a "package deal.""We'd love to have him, the city would love to have him," forward Dirk Nowitzki said of Williams. "He narrowed it down to two teams and I don't think anybody can really change his mind at this point. It's all up to what he feels more comfortable at doing."Williams, from The Colony, is the No. 1 free agent available.The Mavericks are hoping he returns home to try to lead them to the NBA Finals for the third time in eight years."We're in position [to sign Williams], that's all you can ask," general manager Donnie Nelson said. "So we're hopeful and we've just got to play it out."Our priority ... is to get the most high-impact player that we can."The Mavericks also have their own free agents -- Kidd, Jason Terry, Ian Mahinmi, Delonte West, Brian Cardinal and Yi Jianlian -- and hold a team option on Brandan Wright ($947,907).They could use the NBA's amnesty clause on Brendan Haywood, who is owed $8.35 million next season. The provision allows teams to waive a player without having his salary count against the cap.Terry has spent the past eight seasons in Dallas and would like to see his No. 31 jersey retired in the American Airlines Center rafters.But while the Mavericks are busy chasing Williams, Terry might be gone by the time his situation is addressed."As awkward as it is, I cannot talk about my own free agents," Nelson said."That's a slap-down million dollar fine [by the NBA] of which I will not pay. I don't think [owner] Mark [Cuban] will pay that."The Mavericks would love to keep Terry, but don't believe they'll be able to afford him.Under NBA rules, the Mavericks can offer Williams a four-year contract for approximately $74 million. The Nets can give him a five-year contract worth about $100 million."He's got a big decision to make and I'm sure it's been a decision that's been brewing," Nowitzki said. "It's not like he found out he's a free agent yesterday."He's been sitting on this for quite a while. I'm sure he has something already up in his mind, and I guess nobody knows but himself."Teams can't officially sign anyone until July 11.Coach Rick Carlisle said the Mavs can't have enough great players to put themselves in position to win another NBA title. And they believe Williams is that missing piece."Going forward we've got an extremely attractive situation here," Carlisle said. "We've got a great owner, it's a great city, the physical setup is second to none in terms of the proximity of everything, and this is a franchise that's always going to be in the hunt.""It's obvious that we would love to have him," Nowitzki said, "but so would a lot of other teams. He's a great dude and he's from here, so I think it would be a great fit. But hey, that's not my decision."If Williams chooses Brooklyn, the Mavs could target other free-agent point guards, including Goran Dragic (Houston), Steve Nash (Phoenix), Andre Miller (Denver) and Raymond Felton (Portland).Or, they could bank their salary cap space until next summer when Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka, Andrew Bynum, Chris Paul, David West, Josh Smith and Kevin Martin head the 2013 free-agent class.Dwain Price, 817-390-7760Twitter: @DwainPrice

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