Mavericks PG Deron Williams opted out of his contract and is exploring the free agent market. The Mavs would be wise to re-sign him because, frankly, he’s the best they can do.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
- The Dallas Mavericks enter free agency with hopes of securing a premium max contract player.
- To prepare for the courtship, they clear cap space by allowing their already-proven players to test the market.
- The Mavs strike out on their top target and lose out on re-signing their previous players in the process.
- Plan C goes into full effect as the Mavs scramble to find serviceable players to round out a fringe-playoff roster.
- Rinse and repeat.
Since winning the NBA Championship in 2011, the Dallas Mavericks have followed some form of that blueprint every single offseason. Convinced that they are a franchise that attracts the NBA’s best, they have been hell-bent on signing the “prom queen” every summer. And every summer, the prom queen chooses a better looking and more popular franchise to go to the dance with.
It’s a difficult realization to admit but the Dallas Mavericks just aren’t that attractive of a franchise. They go after the prom queen when the girl next door is the one more in their league.
Deron Williams, a local Colony product, fits that definition of “girl next door”.
Williams is on the tail end of his career and the needle is clearly pointed down on the 31-year old veteran PG. His 5.8 assists per game are his lowest in 10 years. His 14.1 points per game are over two points shy of his career average. And his 14.68 Player Efficiency Rating (PER)ranks only #28 among his point guard peers.
While Deron Williams clearly opted out of his deal for a reason – to potentially secure the final multiyear deal of his career, he’s not looking to break the bank. The Dallas Mavericks know Deron Williams is not the player he once was. More importantly, Deron Williams knows he is not the player he once was. Williams is merely looking to lock down guaranteed money while he still can.
The free agent point guard shelves are especially paltry this summer. The only obvious upgrade entering the market is former Memphis Grizzly, Mike Conley. Conley’s 19.45 PER rank him the NBA’s #13 PG. While that places the 28-year old in the middle of the pack statistically, he’s still expecting to fetch a max deal.
Not only is his price tag certain to be sky-high, but the competition to sign him figures to be unparalleled. Roughly a dozen teams expect to be seriously interested in Conley, and almost half of those teams appear to be better long-term options than the aged Mavericks.
Why exactly would this be the season the Mavs finally get the guy?
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Other options exist for the Mavs – Brandon Jennings is a once-great PG who fell back to earth after suffering an Achilles injury. He’s not only an admittedly personal favorite of mine, but a proven player. Wesley Matthews has taught us it takes more than a few months of rehab to bounce back from an Achilles injury.
While I’m happy to sing the praises of a buy-low player like Jennings, he’s not exactly the kinda guy you want to hand the starting job to on Day 1. This is about upgrading the starting PG spot and how difficult it appears to be this free agent period.
Repeatedly, the Mavericks let the proven players leave, target the top free agent players on the market, and then strike out completely.
Both the percentages and recent history suggest Mike Conley is a fantasy for Mavs Nation. That’s primarily why re-signing Deron Williams to a modest multi-year deal looks like the smartest move this summer. Instead of risking losing what they have, they should focus all their energy on retaining as much as possible and then upgrading the center position.
The center position remains the deepest position group in free agency this summer. The simple numbers suggest this is where the Mavericks have the best chances at upgrading.
Deron Williams may not be the player he once was but he’s too good to risk losing on a longshot like Mike Conley. Deron Williams is the best the Mavs can do and that’s ok, as long as the Mavs find a way to upgrade their roster elsewhere…