Mo Williams, despite retirement rumors, announced last week he’d return to the Cavaliers for one more year. Williams knew Cleveland would face major challenges without him, being forced to rely on young and unproven Kay Felder and Jordan McRae behind Kyrie Irving at point guard .
Williams, via David McMenamin of ESPN:
I didn’t want to put the Cavs in that situation at the end of the day.
Well, Williams is putting the Cavs in that situation.
Williams, 33, informed the Cavaliers just before Media Day Monday that he was retiring from basketball, not even a week after announcing via Twitter that he would return for one more season.
Cleveland general manager David Griffin said at the top of his press conference that Williams’ agent, Raymond Brothers, informed the Cavs of Williams’ latest decision in the morning.
It seemed possible Williams wanted to retire but was trying to extract a buyout on his $2,194,500 salary. Doing so would’ve required convincing the Cavs he’d grind through the season but, hampered by injuries, not produce enough to justify his salary and roster spot.
It’s unclear whether the Cavaliers called a bluff, agreed to a buyout or Williams had a true change of heart. Cleveland would be especially reluctant to give him a portion of his salary, because those payments would count toward the luxury tax. But maybe the Cavs are willing to incur a small hit.
This puts plenty of pressure on Felder, the No. 54 pick. He has shooting and distributing talent, and his hops are eye-catching. But the adjustment from mid-major Oakland to the NBA is tough for anyone, let alone someone 5-foot-9.
At least the Cavs can turn to LeBron James as the de facto backup point guard in big games. Give him the ball, flank him with a few wings, and Cleveland will be alright.
This just makes it a little harder – which is not to say hard – for the Cavs to claim the No. 1 seed while limiting their stars’ minutes and set themselves up for those big games next spring and summer.