Mo Williams may not be in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform much longer.
Joe Vardon of The Northeast Ohio Media Group is reporting that Williams is strongly considering retiring from the game. Vardon relayed that Williams’ bulky knee, his desire to coach and the opportunity to leave the game as a champion is weighing heavily on the 33-year-old.
Williams played a limited, yet important, role in the Cavs’ 2016 championship run as he battled a left knee injury throughout the year. The six-foot-one point guard appeared in 41 games — including 14 starts — averaging 8.2 points along with 2.4 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 18.2 minutes a game. He also played some important minutes during Game 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals as Matthew Dellavedova struggled.
Williams was more productive when he was in the starting lineup last year, averaging 14.5 points along with 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 49.1 percent from the field along with 36.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Williams is entering his final year of his contract after exercising the option year on his two-year, $4.3 million pact that he signed in 2015, earlier this summer.
If Williams decides to play the wait-and-see game, Vardon noted that the Cavs could seek to trade him or waive him via the stretch provision. Cleveland has until August 31 to utilize the stretch provision, if the Cavaliers decide to go that route.
Cleveland currently has 14 players under contract a payroll that exceeds $116.49 million, which is $3.2 million over the NBA’s luxury tax threshold. So, in theory, stretching Williams $2.194 million contract over the next few seasons makes sense, as does trading him. If they traded him, the Cavs wouldn’t get anything of substance for him – likely a highly protected second round draft pick four or five years down the road.
However, Cleveland is still expected to re-sign free agent guard J.R. Smith this summer. Smith has been adamant about getting paid this go-around, and is reportedly seeking around $15 million a year — meaning that the Cavs could go deeper into the luxury tax.
Plus, Williams departure would leave undrafted rookie Kay Felder as Kyrie Irving’s lone backup. Thus, leaving Cleveland with little choice but to search for a veteran backup point guard.
Cleveland acquired Felder, who stands at five-foot-nine, in a draft day trade with the Atlanta Hawks. The No. 54 overall draft selection has drawn comparison to two other diminutive NBA point guards, Isaiah Thomas and Nate Robinson. Felder possesses elite athleticism, as demonstrated by his 44-inch vertical and quickness. He is also a capable scorer and fine playmaker.
Felder left Oakland University after his junior campaign, where he averaged 24.4 points, 9.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals a game. The 21-year-old shot 44.0 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from the three-point line and 84.8 percent from the free throw line, getting to the charity stripe an incredible 8.1 times a game in 2015-16. He improved his stat line each of his three collegiate seasons.
Felder continued his solid play this summer with the Cavs in Las Vegas. In seven summer league games, Felder averaged 15.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and registered a 13.57 PIE rating. He did struggle a bit with his shot, knocking down 42 percent (42-of-100) of his shots and 22.7 percent (5-of-22) of his long-distance attempts. Additionally, he got to the line only about three times a game.
What separates Felder from Thomas and Robinson is his aggressiveness defensively, notes Aaron Ferguson of Fansided. He has the ability to put extreme pressure on the ball-handler, whether in the full-court or half-court. His instincts are also on a point as he gets a lot of steals jumping in the passing lanes, which leads to lots of transition opportunities.
If the Cavs decide to look on the open market for another veteran point guard, their options are limited to the likes of Norris Cole, Steve Blake, Kendall Marshall, and Ty Lawson. Cleveland could also look to the D-League where Quinn Cook, Darius Morris, and David Stockton are currently stashed. Additionally, they could wait until teams start making training camp cuts in late October before pursuing another point guard.
[Photo by Tony Dejak/AP Photo]