But with Irving healthy and Matthew Dellavedova significantly improved, Williams has fallen from the rotation. He has played just 20 minutes in Cleveland’s last 16 games. Though he missed three games due to a death in the family, that’s still nine DNP-CDs in that span.
Williams hasn’t always looked pleased with his reduced role, but will he ask for a trade?
Williams, via Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:
“Nah, man. I’ve moved my family around enough,” he said. I’m sticking this thing out.”
Williams has been playing through a thumb injury, and new coach Tyronn Lue has talked about getting him back in the rotation. Once Williams fully heals, that could happen more regularly.
When push comes to shove, Dellavedova will probably get more playing time. He’s a better defender, and his improved outside shooting makes him a good fit with Cleveland’s stars – who will get a large majority of the team’s most important minutes.
But Williams – a ball-handler and scorer – gives the Cavs a different dimension than the players in front of him on the depth chart. That versatility is important for teams navigating a deep playoff track. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Williams helps in a key postseason moment.
That probably boosts his desire to stay with Cleveland.
So does a chance at a championship.
Though the Warriors and Spurs have been playing at ridiculously high levels, the Cavaliers are a legitimate title contender. They’re clear favorites to win the East, and once in the Finals, they could have the breaks go their way.
Williams surely returned to Cleveland for many reasons, a championship chase among them. No matter what happens with his playing time, that hasn’t gone away.