NBA Free Agency 2012: Odds on Where Sixers Leading Scorer Lou Williams Will Land
Lou Williams, the leading scorer for the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2011-2012 season, has officially opted out of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent this season with the potential to go to a number of different teams.
According to Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
A league source said the interest in Williams throughout the league is "significant" and that a contract to land him could be "in the Thaddeus Young range." Before this past season, Young signed a 5-year deal worth close to $43 million.
So, where does Williams appear likely to go next season? Whose jersey will he put on for the 2012-2013 campaign?
It's too soon to have any official indication of where Williams will wind up, so please note that this is speculation on my part based on salary cap room and need. When given, cap information will come via ESPN's Larry Coon.
Read on for the eight early favorites in the Williams sweepstakes.
8. Boston Celtics
With Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett both possibly leaving the Boston Celtics in free agency, the team is going to be in need of some serious scoring punch. With $22 million left under the salary cap, Danny Ainge can afford to splurge on Lou Williams.
Rajon Rondo's defense is strong enough that he and Williams could play on the court in an undersized lineup, with Wiliams serving as the off-guard.
With Allen, Garnett, Brandon Bass, Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, Jeff Green, Ryan Hollins, Sasha Pavlovic and Mickael Pietrus all unrestricted free agents, Williams would be a great place to start putting together a completely new roster.
7. New Orleans Hornets
The New Orleans Hornets are poised to add two great young rookies during the 2012 NBA draft when they select Anthony Davis at No. 1 and a player to be named at No. 10. If they can re-sign restricted free agent Eric Gordon, they'll have much more of a scoring punch, but that is in no way a guarantee.
Regardless of whether last season's big acquisition in the Chris Paul trade remains in a New Orleans uniform, Lou Williams would add some much-needed scoring to the Hornets lineup.
He may even be an upgrade over Jarrett Jack, who remains an underrated floor general.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
Whether he lines up at shooting guard or stays as a sixth man, Williams would provide a scoring punch for this Cavs lineup, which is desperately in need of one. Irving may have been sensational as a rookie, but he can't shoulder the load all by himself.
Adding a guard is a priority this offseason and signing Lou Williams would be a nice backup option if the Cavs can't land Bradley Beal in the draft.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves have solid options at point guard in Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour, but there's a gaping void at shooting guard and it desperately needs to be filled.
With Rubio passing the ball masterfully, Lou Williams' job as a scorer would be easier. Between Williams and Kevin Love, the Wolves would have two go-to scorers and seriously contend for a playoff spot as all their young players continue to develop.
Williams may have to give up a bit of his ball dominating ways to fit in with this team, but he could do a lot of damage.
4. Dallas Mavericks
Not only do the Dallas Mavericks lack a go-to scorer outside of Dirk Nowitzki, but their roster is also relatively devoid of any quality guards. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Delonte West are all unrestricted free agents, leaving Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter as the starting (and only) guards.
Lou Williams could easily remedy this problem while providing a much-needed infusion of youth to Mark Cuban's team.
It's hard to think of a better replacement for Terry than Williams.
3. Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers need guards now that Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford have proven that they aren't long-term answers. Moreover, Wesley Matthews didn't exactly have the breakout season that so many were predicting last year.
Other than LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland is missing a true scorer and needs to pick one up in the backcourt. With one of the loosest cap situations in the league, the team should be able to spend the money necessary to acquire the services of Lou Williams.
Williams would provide a better version of what Jamal Crawford provided and with a fraction of the headaches.
2. Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets currently have no one on the roster. That's an exaggeration, but only barely.
At this point, they need to start assuming that Deron Williams will not be back and preparing for the worst. That means signing the best players they can get their hands on.
Lou Williams, for all the faults that his inefficiency may create, is one of the most talented scorers in free agency and would most likely relish the opportunity to be a go-to guy on a new team in a major market.
With his flashiness and tendency to light up the scoreboard, he could quickly become a fan favorite.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Lou Williams was the leading scorer for a solid Philadelphia 76ers squad and the team would love to bring him back, even if it's at a higher price. The scoring punch he provided off the bench was invaluable for this well-balanced and defensively-oriented squad.
Williams has said that he wants to be back.
Philly president Rod Thorn wants him back:
We'd like to sign him, if at all possible. He wants to test the waters. To become an unrestricted free agent doesn't happen often, maybe once or twice in a career. He wants to see what's out there. He has said he wants to stay with us, but we'll have to wait and see what happens.
Until there's any indication that Williams is leaning towards a different team, the Sixers stay in the No. 1 spot.