Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Mo Williams Redux

Not to beat the Mo Williams signing stuff to death, but I stumbled across the full transcript from the press conference announcing his signing and thought a couple parts showed some interesting insight into the negotiating process. You can watch video highlights here as well. You never know how much BS is in these press conferences, since no player is going to say they wanted to go to another city, but they just couldn't turn down the money. Still, the discussion about how Mo was involved in the negotiations (namely that he wasn't really) is kinda interesting. Especially when there's nothing else going on.

Did you catch a lot of flack for saying that Miami was your favorite city in the Bucks Media Guide?
Mo Williams: I guess you should watch what you say sometimes I guess. Miami is a beautiful city especially when we go because it is cold in Milwaukee at the time. On terms of when I said that it was kind of a vacation spot. I will tell you a funny story about Miami. Coming out for the draft, I was working out for a lot of teams. It was three days before the draft and my second-to-last workout was for Miami and I cancelled it. That was the only workout that I cancelled during my workouts for the draft.
Interesting tidbit.
Did you get to talk with Dwyane Wade and Shaq O'Neal when you were down in Miami?
Mo Williams
: No, neither was in town. I never was involved with the negotiations at all. My agent did a great job of that, keeping me away from it (and) keeping my emotions out of it as much as possible. He just brought me the information that I needed to know but as far as a lot of other things I wasn’t involved in it.

What do you think about Pat Riley?
Mo Williams: He’s an interesting guy. He’s a legend obviously. If you sit down with Pat (Riley) you’ll appreciate him. He’s a great guy. But I really don’t know him that well. I just know him from the 24 hours I spent with him. You kind of hear what other people say about him but I don’t know him personally. It was fun when we went down there. We had a nice conversation. But at the same time I had to make a decision that was best for me, my career and my family. I had to do the best thing that would make us happy.

It's interesting how media reports played up the role of Wade and Shaq in recruiting Mo, yet here Mo is suggesting he was basically divorced from the negotiating process aside from visiting Miami and talking to Riley. You also get the feeling he wasn't totally sold on Riley for whatever reason.
Was there a time when you thought you were going to lose out on Mo?
Larry Harris: Oh yeah. It’s funny and again Mo can tell you I didn’t speak to him during this time. Only one time did we speak and it was more of a group thing. When you get into that you don’t want it to be personal and it is a business. He has to understand that that’s where you have to kind of separate yourself and it becomes agent representatives and myself and (the) organization. We take the player out of it because it’s too emotional for him. It’s beyond anything you can imagine. Money is important, but (it’s really just) the whole magnitude of all of it, being it is his first time in free agency and everybody is pulling him in all different directions. Players will talk and tell him to go here and go there. They’re telling him I’m hearing they’re offering this I’m hearing they’re offering that. The one thing that was going to be a problem for us was that if there was a team that could recruit him, if there would be a team that felt like they were a step away and (that they needed) a point guard. There were two teams that I feared the most and they were Cleveland and Miami.
Often times negotiations are portrayed as the GM sitting down with the coach and player and hammering something out, but here we see a very different picture (probably due in part to Mo being familiar with the team/city). The player stands back and essentially leaves the entire process to the agent and GM. Definitely a good tactic for the player, as it allows the agent to create uncertainty over the player's intentions, without the player himself having to play the part. It worked out very well for Mo and Mark Bartelstein, as the Bucks' fears of losing Mo led to them giving Mo a much better deal (both in dollar terms and opt-out flexibility) than anyone else could have offered.


Anonymous said...

I disagree strongly that this is a good tactic for a player. Sure it may be an emotional decision, but who the hell makes a decision about where they're going to spend the next 5 or 6 years of their life without actually being involved IN the process? Especially considering the fact that the agent has his own motivations (i.e., choose the team that offers the most money b/c then I receive a greater commission). This decision had to come down to dollars for my homeboy Mo. Because now he's stuck in Milwaukee and fans will continue to have the same reaction they did when I saw him give Washington 35, score like 19 of the last 20, and hit the game winner over Jamison from 30 feet..."who the hell is THAT guy?"

frank said...

I agree for a player choosing between new cities that being closely involved in the process makes sense, as they need to understand what they're getting themselves into (and hence Mo did talk to Riley about his potential fit in Miami). Mo's situation was however a little unique in that he knew what the Bucks were about and no one else could offer him more than the MLE. There really didn't need to be a wooing process. So I would say that the best way to create artificial leverage was to have Bartelstein deal with the Bucks, let him say whatever needs to be said, and then hope the Bucks get nervous that Mo was serious about leaving and raise their offer. If Mo is more involved then he has to play the negotiation game himself, which isn't his job. His poker face probably isn't as good as Mark Bartelstein's--especially when you consider what the Bucks paid Bobby Simmons and Jake Voskuhl, two of Bartelstein's other clients.