Most stars have been plucked from NBA free agency, but there is one Mo guy on the market. The Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat and New York Knicks are fighting over former Utah Jazz point guard Mo Williams, who could boost the teams from playoff-bound to Finals contenders.
Williams is a good shooter, who has put up at least 12.0 points per game for eight consecutive years and has averaged 5.0 assists per game over his career.
Twitter has been full of pitches from fans hoping to woo Williams, who is expected to make his decision any day now. Each team offers Williams something different, from the starting reins, to the limelight, to being Mr. Offense off the bench.
Williams would need to accept a bench role, but going to the Grizz could be his best move. Memphis is a serious playoff threat, and Williams just spent three days meeting with Grizzlies’ personnel, showing his legitimate interest in the team.
Mike Conley isn’t moving out of the starting five, so Williams would be the team’s sixth man, a role he thrived in with the Los Angeles Clippers two years ago.
Adding Williams would allow Jerryd Bayless to compete with Quincy Pondexter as the backup shooting guard, or Pondexter could challenge the recently signed Mike Miller as the reserve 3.
The Grizzlies could use Williams’ 38.6 percent career three-point shooting percentage after taking less threes than any other team in the NBA. When Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol get double-teamed in the paint, the big men can kick the ball out to Williams and Miller on the perimeter.
One of the only holes in the Heat’s roster is at point guard, and Williams was named to the 2009 All-Star team while complementing LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The two could reunite if Williams takes his talents to South Beach.
After LeBron left Cleveland, Williams reacted like a high school cheerleader who just got dumped by the homecoming king. They had only been teammates for two years, but Williams told Yahoo! Sports’ Mark J. Spears, “I really sat down and envisioned life after basketball…I really saw myself not playing.”
The Heat’s other weakness is at center, and Miami has been pursuing Greg Oden’s cadaver for much of free agency. If Oden joins the Heat, Williams would need to take around the veteran’s minimum to reunite with LeBron.
New York Knicks
The Knicks need to bolster their point guard corps, as Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni are unlikely to duplicate last year’s success. Jannero Pargo, Bobby Brown and Beno Udrih are still on the market, but the Knicks want Williams.
Problem is, the Knicks have already spent most of their money on Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and (sigh) Andrea Bargnani. As Bleacher Report columnist Mike Chiari wrote, New York would only be able to offer Williams a minimum contract, and he could be looking for “Mo Money.”
With Anthony and Stoudemire in the lineup, Williams would be the third or fourth scoring option, still more responsibility than the Grizzlies or Heat would offer. The Knicks have said they will let Anthony pick his teammates next summer to gear up for a title run, meaning Williams could join the next Heat-like dynasty.
My guess is that Williams ends up with the current Heat-like dynasty because of his love for LeBron and the chance to immediately contend for a title. The Knicks are too unstable and can’t pay more than Miami, while Memphis doesn’t have the same established track record.
At 31 years old, Williams is ready to become a role player on championship team rather than a key cog on a fringe playoff squad.