Best Landing Spots for 2014 Unrestricted Free Agent Mo Williams
Damian Lillard certainly wishes the organization could find a way. According to CSNNW.com's Chris Haynes, "[Lillard] admitted that it was a bit difficult to wrap his mind around the fact that his 'brother' wouldn’t be around anymore."
Per Haynes, Lillard said, "[Williams has] always been there for me. When I did something wrong, he was the first one showing me how I should have done it. When I did something good, he was the first person telling me how proud he was of me."
In short, Williams was a mentor—the right guy at the right time for Lillard, an influence who no doubt paid dividends on a young team looking to do big things.
Haynes noted separately that, when asked which free agent he wanted his Trail Blazers to pursue, Lillard texted, "Yeah…Mo Williams."
Instead, Portland signed Steve Blake—potentially spelling the end of Williams' tenure with the franchise.
Still on the market, Williams' options may be narrowing. With few reports indicating the options up for consideration, one can only speculate about where he'd be a strong fit.
Here are five options that make sense.
5. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks might have to get creative in order to land Mo Williams given the organization's limitations under the salary cap. They might even have to explore sign-and-trade possibilities.
But here's the bottom line.
President of basketball operations Phil Jackson is looking to make this team a winner sooner rather than later. He'll have plenty of cap space to improve the rotation in 2015, but Carmelo Anthony doesn't want to go through another subpar season.
Jose Calderon was a solid acquisition and is better than advertised. But the Knicks could use a change of pace off the bench that the pass-first Pablo Prigioni won't provide. The up-and-coming Shane Larkin probably isn't polished enough to provide it, either.
Put simply, New York could use a cold-blooded scorer.
Williams would inject some life into New York's second unit, perhaps making it easier to justify starting J.R. Smith. Other teams may have greater need at the point, but few have greater need for a difference-maker.
4. Portland Trail Blazers
It may be an outside chance at this point, but a reunion isn't entirely out of the question.
Things worked out pretty well between Mo Williams and the Portland Trail Blazers. He may wind up being too expensive for the club's tastes, but it was good while it lasted at the very least.
The signing of Steve Blake suggests the organization has already opted for another direction, but there's still a slight chance Williams could return according to CSNNW.com's Chris Haynes:
This addition [of Steve Blake] likely ends the pursuit of free agent Mo Williams, who was the team’s leading scorer off the bench. Williams’ agent told CSNNW.com with the acquisition of Blake, the chances of Mo returning are slimmer, but not completely shut.
'There is a strong market for Mo and Portland knows that,' Mark Bartelstein said. 'They had to protect themselves by picking up Blake. We still have interest but we’re still looking over our options at this time.'
Blake would likely cut into Williams' minutes, and there are only so many to go around with All-Star Damian Lillard in the starting lineup. The nice thing about Williams is that he can really play from either guard spot on account of his lethal scoring instincts.
Those instincts would be sorely missed if Williams takes his talent elsewhere. This team needed a second-unit sparkplug and could take a slight step back without it.
3. Houston Rockets
At the moment, the Houston Rockets' point guard rotation consists of Patrick Beverley and Ish Smith. Though Beverley is poised to take another step forward after a breakout 2013-14 campaign, this team could use help at the position.
Beverley excels on the defensive end, and he's a solid spot-up shooter. But Williams is far better at creating offense off the dribble, and he'd fit in perfectly as the Rockets' sixth man.
It's unclear just how much cap room Houston has after signing swingman Trevor Ariza to a four-year, $32 million contract. The other consideration would no doubt be contract length. Williams may be looking for a lucrative, long-term deal given that he won't have many more opportunities to win such a contract.
The Rockets, of course, will look to maintain cap flexibility.
But if Williams is willing to play on a short-term deal, the Rockets have a lot to offer. Houston isn't far from Williams' Dallas home, and it's still in strong position to contend, all the stronger with Williams in the fold.
2. Miami Heat
Shabazz Napier won't save the Miami Heat at the point guard spot just yet. He still has some work to do on that jump shot, and he'll need some time to learn the finer points of running and NBA offense.
Miami's other options are Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole—neither of whom are in any position to replace LeBron James playmaking ability. Admittedly, few are. But this team still needs another guard who can initiate offense and make some things happen.
A veteran wouldn't hurt.
Williams would have to take a pay cut to play in Miami, but that's likely to be the case just about anywhere with a chance to win.
Though the Heat can no longer sell free agents on the opportunity to play with LBJ, team president Pat Riley has quickly reassembled a rotation that can still make noise in a soft Eastern Conference.
1. Dallas Mavericks
Mo Williams has a home in Dallas, and the Mavericks have a need for another point guard to upgrade the currently scheduled platoon of Devin Harris and Raymond Felton.
In short, this is a perfect fit.
Per SportsDayDFW.com, Mavericks team president Donnie Nelson explained that Dallas was interested—if the price was right, anyway:
Yeah we’ve been trying to figure out a way to get Mo in a Maverick uniform for years now. He’s a Dallas guy, from Memphis but lives in Dallas with his family, so we’re hopeful that we can work something out but again our hands are tied right now because of the Parsons thing of what we can do financially. All these guys, whether it’s Mo, whether it’s ‘Trix [Shawn Marion], in all reality they’re going to have to take a pay cut to come here.
The Mavericks have already met with Williams, so the big question remains how much money Williams can earn on the open market and whether that is a bigger selling point than the opportunity to win in Dallas.
Williams' experience coming off the bench would give Dallas options, but he could very well win a starting job given the team's current options at the position. Neither Felton nor Harris has a lock on the starting job at this point.
The Mavericks have quickly become more than just a dark-horse contender in the Western Conference thanks to signing Chandler Parsons. The additions of Richard Jefferson and Rashard Lewis on the wing don't hurt either.
This is a well-coached, veteran team led by a proven winner in Dirk Nowitzki.
Other than money, what else could Williams possibly want?