We've talked about Mark Cuban's absence from the Deron Williams meeting at length before. The topic dominated the normally dormant sports talk radio summer airwaves and filled plenty of space during a slow week at the local newspapers. Old-timey folks were appalled that Cuban wouldn't show up to the potential biggest free-agent signing in Mavericks history and hip folks were just like, "Hey, calm down, man, Carlisle and Donnie are more important anyway."
Well, turns out it Cuban's presence was pretty important. Here's Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
Deron Williams revealed Monday that Cuban's absence from his free-agent meeting in July clinched his decision to reject the Mavericks and re-sign with the Nets. Cuban, who cut payroll and gutted a championship team to chase Williams in free agency, was in California at the time an episode of "Shark Tank."
"Of course (Cuban's absence had an effect)," Williams said. "My top four when I was coming out of high was Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Maryland.
"Maryland told me they wanted me to come on a visit but Gary Williams wouldn't be there. So I told them, ‘It's okay. I'd rather not go.' So that was that. It's similar."
Bondy later on writes that while Williams was happy to meet with Rick Carlisle and GM Donnie Nelson, he felt the need to discuss the future with Cuban. Apparently the person in charge of player personnel isn't good enough to talk about the future of the franchise.
Again, my previous stance remains: Cuban's absence shouldn't have had an affect on the meeting if Williams was a normal, rational person who could talk X's and O's and player development with Carlise and future transactions and future planning with Nelson, the general manager.
Unfortunately, Williams didn't think that. It's dumb that Williams felt the need to talk about the future of the franchise with Cuban rather than the more than capable Nelson, but Cuban probably should have foreseen this. Other than Dirk Nowitzki, Cuban is the most recognizable name of the Mavericks. He's constantly being interviewed and represents the Mavericks outside the basketball world. The reason Williams wants to talk the future with only Cuban is probably because the Mavericks are most associated with Cuban over anyone else, excluding Dirk. You can't really fault Williams too much when it's Cuban's name that pops up on TMZ, search engines and The Wall Street Journal. That's a name and brand recognition that, no offense at all to the wonderful GM, Nelson doesn't have. Cuban should have known that his appearance could influence Williams' decision.
In the end, what's done is done. The Mavericks moved on and compiled a pretty nice collection of players and Williams will make the move with the Nets to Brooklyn. While Cuban still thinks the Mavs are better off without Williams, it remains to be seen. Dirk Nowitzki won't be around forever and who knows what Williams would have meant to the Dwight Howard pursuits.
Cuban not being at the meeting was only a big deal if Williams thought it was. It turns out Williams thought that. Cuban's made plenty of risky moves as a business owner. Let's just chalk this one up as a swing-and-miss and move on, shall we?