One by one, returning Cavaliers collected their championship rings on opening night: Jordan McRae,Channing Frye,Iman Shumpert,Tristan Thompson,Richard Jefferson,James Jones,J.R. Smith,Kevin Love,Kyrie Irving then LeBron James. The Cavs even welcomed back Dahntay Jones, whom they cut before the season.
But one player on both the 2016 playoff roster and the 2016-17 regular-season roster was notably absent: Mo Williams, who has forced Cleveland into a difficult situation by opting into the final year of his contract, not retiring and then undergoing surgery.
Bringing Williams to The Q never crossed the Cavs’ mind. He’s not welcome
Williams has a startling amount of leverage here. His salary is guaranteed, and if the Cavs waive him, the full amount would count toward the luxury tax. Because he just underwent surgery, it’s difficult to fine or suspend him for not reporting. The Cavaliers might just have to waive him, but first they’ll try to trade him and have someone else pay him (without as stiff luxury-tax penalties). All the while, Williams keeps drawing paychecks.
Keeping Williams from the banner/ring ceremony might be petty, but what other option did the Cavs have? What else can Cleveland offer that would convince Williams to forgo money besides a chance to participate in that ceremony? It was their best leverage of convincing him to reduce his salary in a buyout. (Predictably, it failed.)
Williams helped Cleveland win its championship. Even if it’s understandable why the Cavaliers don’t want him around the facility, even on a special occasion, it’s another level to deny him a ring entirely.