Mo Williams slyly backed the Cavaliers into a corner by opting into the final year of his contract, not retiring and undergoing surgery.
Look past the noise, and it’s pretty simple. Williams is under contract for a guaranteed $2,194,500 this season, and because he’s recovering from surgery, it’d be difficult for Cleveland to suspend him for not reporting. Just what does reporting look like for someone recovering from surgery?
This is obviously a fiasco for the Cavs, who face a steep luxury-tax bill and roster crunch. They don’t want Williams worsening either dilemma.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in impasse with guard Mo Williams and it has left them scouring the league for a trade partner so they don’t have to swallow millions, sources told ESPN.com.
The Cavs, who were caught off guard by the decision, have not had meaningful discussions with Williams on a buyout agreement, sources said.
Needing both a roster spot and a backup point guard, the Cavs are in a squeeze as the regular season opener looms. They are looking to attach guard Jordan McRae to Williams in trades, sources said.
Williams has negative trade value. I doubt McRae carries much trade value, let alone enough to offset the anchor of Williams.
It’s too late for Cleveland to stretch Williams’ salary. He has little incentive to negotiate a buyout. At this point, he’ll probably get all his remaining salary (though a buyout would be guaranteed and avoid the possibility of fines and suspensions reducing his payout).
The Cavaliers would do well to trade Williams to another team to waive him. The Cavs project to save $6,328,892 ($2,194,500 and $4,134,392 in luxury tax) by dumping Williams rather than waiving him themselves. They could even send another team Williams’ full $2,194,500 salary to take him and still come far ahead financially. Essentially, the other team would break even in such a deal. So, why would the other team do it? Cleveland would also have to send more – additional cash, draft picks or a player like McRae.
With multiple teams below the salary floor, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a taker.
But whatever positive assets the Cavaliers trade to dump Williams would be assets they can’t use in a trade for a healthy, productive point guard.
Williams is going to make life more difficult for the Cavs. The only question now is just how much more.