May 14, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams (25) watches from the bench against the San Antonio Spurs in game five of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 104-82. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Mo Williams to Opt Out – What Happens Next?


Trail Blazers point guard Mo Williams has declared his intention to opt out of his second year in Portland as he pursues a three year contract. The 31 year old free agent believes that he has one multi-year deal left in the tank and I am inclined to agree. Leading the Trail Blazers in points and assists off the bench, Williams was invaluable to a team in desperate need of secondary production. Whether he returns to Portland or not, this is the right move for him. The time is right to sell high on himself while he is a relevant contributor.

 

 

It’s about money and stability. If Williams had signed on for the remainder of his contract, he would have become an unrestricted free agent in 2015 at 32 years old. When you are not a max-level player, every year after 30 drives your price down and fewer teams are willing to offer multi-year deals; especially at decent pay. He is smart enough to recognize that he would not be in Portland’s long term plans at that point, and will thusly capitalize on his dwindling premium.

I personally do not think Williams will remain in Portland next season. The Trail Blazers have no business signing him for three more years when just one or two more would be a questionable call. He is not worth the asking price here, but he could be worth the investment for a different team under different circumstances. While it is far too early to tell where he will end up, I would not be surprised if he peaks Indiana’s interest. They were 28th in bench points this season and their best option behind George Hill is C.J. Watson, who is really more of a shooting guard anyway. Contenders want vets and vets want contenders.

Feb 12, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts (right) and guard C.J. McCollum (3) during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This could leave Portland without a backup point guard, as Earl Watson is still torn between playing (Portland would have to re-sign him) and coaching. One of two things would likely happen then: the Trail Blazers sign another point guard in free agency, or they stick C.J. McCollum in the rotation behind Damian Lillard. I would prefer to avoid the latter, as McCollum is largely untested. He was also drafted 10th in a historically weak draft class, and I don’t think having an otherwise middling second-year player as the number one option off the bench in a “win now” season is the way to go, though I do have high hopes for his future.

As far as free agency goes, there are plenty of respectable, unrestricted backup PGs this year; Shaun Livingston, Rodney Stuckey, Mario Chalmers, Ramon Sessions, and Kirk Hinrich topping the list. Even former Trail Blazers Steve Blake and Patty Mills are available on paper. After the year Portland has had, I am not especially concerned that they would be unable to woo suitable talent. They will have another roster spot and nearly $3M to play with once Williams is off the books too.

Of course, this is assuming that Williams does not return. It is still entirely possible that Williams remains with the team for another few seasons, though I do not believe that to be the ideal circumstance for either party unless a championship is involved. It is more likely that Williams has already played his last game as a Trail Blazer. Despite the expected inconsistencies, I am glad he was able to help make this year as special as it was and I wish him well in all of his future endeavors – Here or otherwise.

 

 

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