LeBron James wanted the Cleveland Cavaliers to land another playmaker, and they gave him Derrick Williams, who isn’t really a playmaker.
Next up: More Derrick Williams, who still isn’t really a playmaker, but is expected to stick with the Cavaliers for the rest of this season, per Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon:
They are going to sign him to a minimum contract in approximately 11 more days. But there won’t be a team option. Williams signed a $4.6 million deal with the Heat last summer. He’s earned at least $26 million over his six seasons. So he doesn’t “need” the security of a veteran’s minimum contract. He will sign with the Cavs for the rest of the season and then seek a bigger payday as a free agent in the off-season.
Because of salary cap restrictions, the Cavs would only be able to offer him the mid-level taxpayer’s exception, which this season is about $3.5 million. By the way, the Cavs will sign Williams to a second 10-day contract instead of inking him for the rest of the season Saturday so they can maintain ultimate roster flexibility through Thursday’s trade deadline. But he’s definitely in their plans. I mean, they think he’ll help against Golden State, after all.
Williams is a borderline necessity for the Cavs following the announcement Kevin Love will miss the next six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. It helps, too, that he’s shooting 75 percent on two-pointers, 37.5 percent on three-pointers and, for the most part, trying on defense through his four games with Cleveland.
As for actually landing James another playmaker, the Cavaliers still have some flexibility. They possess a bunch of trade exceptions, ranging from $950,000 to $4.8 million, and opened up a roster spot, even with Williams, after sending Chris Andersen and cash considerations to the Charlotte Hornets.
That roster spot could end up being more important than the trade exceptions. If a good salary dump doesn’t materialize, the Cavaliers will still be able to surf the buyout market more aggressively once it fills out following the Feb. 23 trade deadline.
In the meantime, enjoy this version of Derrick Williams. He’s upped the ante, as players tend to do in a contract year when operating beside LeBron James, and there’s a chance he gets semi-serious spin during Love’s protracted absence.