HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In the history of NBA beefs, this budding Deron Williams-Mark Cuban dust-up could rank as one of our all-time favorites for being much ado about absolutely nothing.
Seriously, by the time Williams issued his “No-Cuban/Mavericks-Questions-Ever” edict to the reporters who followed the saga to the Brooklyn Nets’ practice Wednesday:
“Don’t even ask me about Mark Cuban. I’m not gonna answer any questions about the Dallas Mavericks or Mark Cuban for the rest of the year. Even when we go play Dallas or they come here, I’m not answering questions about the Dallas Mavericks.”
The pulse on this scrap was already fading.
Williams lit the flame Monday when he mentioned to many of those same reporters that Cuban might have helped sway his free-agency decision had Cuban attended the face-to-face recruiting pitch in July.
At first glance it didn’t seem like he was throwing darts at the Mavericks’ owner in particular, but that’s the way it played out:
“I think (Cuban) would have been able to answer a lot of the questions me and my agent have for him that really didn’t get answered that day pertaining to the future,” Williams told reporters. “And I think if he was there he would have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. It maybe would have helped me.
“(I wanted to hear about) the direction of the future of the team, other than Dirk [Nowitzki]. Players they were thinking about. Everything was basically just their track record, trust their track record, which is, you know, I can honor that, because they do have a good track record but it’s not enough for me, especially when (Nets general manager Billy King) was updating me daily.”
The Mavericks, in Spain for their European preseason excursion, got wind of what Williams said. Cuban, never one to hold back, responded in kind:
“I’m a big D-Will fan, but I’m kind of surprised that he would throw his front office under the bus like that by saying that I would make a difference,” Cuban said before the Mavericks’ game against FC Barcelona Regal. “I would have expected him to say — like I’d expect one of our guys to say — ‘Hey I’m so thrilled with the front office and the moves we made and our team that it wouldn’t have mattered what he did.'”
For the record, the Mavericks’ recruiting contingent consisted of coach Rick Carlisle, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and former Mavericks star Michael Finely, who is now a part of the front office staff. So it’s not like they sent folks Williams wouldn’t recognize as authority figures for the franchise or guys who wouldn’t be intimately involved with what’s going on with the team’s future.
Still, for a guy who grew up in suburban Dallas, as Williams did, we can understand why Cuban’s presence at recruiting sit down would have been so important. The fact that Cuban was in California at the time taping an episode of his TV show, “Shark Tank,” was clearly viewed negatively by Williams (although, we can’t be sure since he’s not even taking, let alone answering, any questions about Cuban and the Mavericks).
It’s easy to see how something so simple could get turned upside down in today’s Twitter world, where one statement relayed via social media gets blown out of proportion before anyone’s had a chance to examine the context of the situation.
Things turned out for both sides. The Mavericks revamped their roster for this season and will dive back into free agency next summer looking to land another All-Star to play alongside Nowitzki. And the Nets, with the revamped roster King promised, are gracing magazine covers and have people buzzing from coast to coast about the new power rising in Brooklyn.
As much as we’d love to fan the flames on this one, this faux feud between Cuban and Williams is headed to an early grave here at the hideout. Both sides have much more pressing matters to tend to anyway.