DALLAS (AP) — Deron Williams is joining his hometown Mavericks and will try to help salvage a failed bid in free agency similar to three years ago, when he spurned Dallas to stay with the Brooklyn Nets.
Williams, who grew up in the Dallas suburb of The Colony, signed a two-year, $10 million contract Tuesday. He has a player option in the second year.
Dallas had a deal with Williams on Friday and had to wait for him to clear waivers. It was a boost for the Mavericks soon after free agent center DeAndre Jordan reneged on a deal to sign with them and re-signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Nets bought out the 31-year-old Williams to lower their payroll. They owed him $43 million in the final two years of the contract.
Jordan’s shocking reversal was a bigger blow for the Mavericks than Williams’ decision in 2012 because the late change of heart left them few options at center in free agency. But it’s too early to say it will be more costly.
While Williams’ choice to stay with the Nets for their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn came earlier in the process, it didn’t help Dallas much.
The Mavericks added Darren Collison for 2012-13 in hopes that his career would blossom as their starting point guard, but it didn’t work. Collison was benched, and that season was the only time since 2000 that Dallas has missed the playoffs.
The Williams decision back then also started a three-year streak of summers that the Mavericks missed out on big names in free agency — all since owner Mark Cuban chose salary cap flexibility over bringing back key pieces of the franchise’s only championship in 2011. Dallas hasn’t won a playoff series since taking the title.
The Mavericks thought they had finally broken through when Jordan agreed to come after an aggressive recruiting campaign led by forward Chandler Parsons. But there were still five days left before the 6-foot-11 Houston native and former Texas A&M player could sign a contract.
Jordan started having second thoughts, and his Los Angeles teammates and coach Doc Rivers swooped in and convinced him to come back.
On Thursday, the Mavericks traded a second-round pick to Milwaukee for center Zaza Pachulia, and secured the agreement with Williams the next day.
The question now is how much the 31-year-old Williams can help Dallas. His scoring average has dropped significantly the past two seasons while injuries slowed him and his happiness was often questioned.
Williams acknowledged a loss of confidence during a rocky 2014-15 season and ended up averaging 13 points, the lowest since he was a rookie. Brooklyn made the playoffs all three years after Williams signed the max deal at five years and $98.5 million, but won just one series.
The signing of Williams also completes the starting lineup for Dallas after the setback with Jordan. Williams, Pachulia and free agent guard Wesley Matthews are the newcomers joining 37-year-old Dirk Nowitzki for his 18th season and Parsons.
Parsons and Matthews might not be ready for the start of the regular season, and Cuban has said the Mavericks won’t rush them. Parsons had surgery for a right knee injury that sidelined him for all but one game of a first-round playoff loss to Houston. Matthews ruptured his left Achilles tendon with Portland against the Mavericks in March.