With the biggest names on the free agent market gone — the lone exception being LeBron James, and he is not going anywhere — teams are now focusing on role players and one such player who is getting a ton of attention is point guard Mo Williams.
Williams, who spent last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Hornets, has been linked to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, Hornets, and Dallas Mavericks, though Bleacher Report‘s Jared Zwerling recently tweeted that the San Antonio Spurs could now enter the Williams sweepstakes after losing backup point guard Cory Joseph to the Toronto Raptors.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Charlotte would be willing to work out a sign and trade for Williams.
Williams, 32, averaged 14.2 points and 6.2 assists in 29.1 minutes of action. The 12-year veteran shot 39.7 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from beyond the arc. He made $3.9 million last season and will likely get a raise after his sterling performance with the Hornets.
In 27 games with Charlotte, with 14 of those coming as starts, Williams averaged 17.2 points and 6.0 assists to go along with 2.8 turnovers in 30.8 minutes of action. He struggled from the field, shooting just 39.0 percent from the floor and 33.7 percent from beyond the arc last year.
Williams shoots 43.4 percent for his career from the floor and 37.9 percent from beyond the arc. He is nearly automatic from charity stripe, making 87.0 percent of his free throws.
Williams biggest problem is on the defensive end, as he is too small to guard most shooting guards, and his quickness is waning as he gets older. According to Basketball-Reference, Williams’ defensive rating was 112 last year, though it was 107 during his stint with the Hornets. His minus-3.5 DBPM (Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating) was the worst of his career, and he recorded a minus-1.3 plus/minus box score rating overall.
The rest of the article will look at the teams interested in Williams.
Memphis: The Grizzlies were thought to be the leaders in obtaining Williams last week, as Zwerling tweeted that Williams would sign a deal with the Griz for three or four years.
Update: Williams and the Cavs have agreed to a two-year contract worth $4.3 million. The contract includes a player option. Williams chose the Cavs over offers from San Antonio, Dallas and New Orleans.
However, things have changed, as Hoop Rumors reported that Memphis allowed its contract guarantee date with backup point guard Beno Udrih to pass, meaning that they are on the hook for the full $2.17 million of his contract rather than just $923,000. The Grizzlies also have Russ Smith on the roster, and extended a qualifying offer to Nick Calathes.
It is assumed that Memphis is using their $5.464 million mid-level to accommodate their deal with Brandan Wright.
Cleveland: The Cavs, on the behest of James, and Williams have mutual interest, though Cleveland only has their $3.376 million taxpayer’s mid-level to spend on him.
The Cavs have gone on a spending spree this summer with the signing of Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert. They still need to re-sign James, Tristan Thompson, and Matthew Delladova. There are also reports that Cleveland is looking to make a deal for Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson.
Dallas: The Mavericks interest in Williams could be cooling as they are in the process of completing a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for Jeremy Lin, per CBS Sports. If Lin does come aboard, Dallas will have J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, Lin, and Ray Felton as options at point guard.
Charlotte: The Hornets have done some nice things this offseason. Charlotte doesn’t really have the salary cap space to add free agents or roster room, according to SB Nation. The Hornets could re-sign Williams, per league rules, but he appears to want to sign with a playoff-contending team. It is not totally out of the realm of possibility that Williams will return to the Hornets.
San Antonio: The Spurs have re-signed Tim Duncan, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard, while also gobbling up LaMarcus Aldridge on the open market. This basically means the Spurs don’t have much salary cap space to sign Williams, which is why a sign-and-trade would work perfectly for San Antonio.
The Spurs are still waiting word from Manu Ginobili, but they do need someone to back-up Tony Parker. Right now, Patty Mills is the only other ball-handler that the Spurs have on their roster.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images]