As expected, Mo Williams decided to opt out of his current contract with the Portland Trail Blazers. Reports have suggested the aging Williams is seeking a three-year deal, but it’s unclear whether any team, including the Trail Blazers, will offer the 31-year-old a contract of that length.
So, what do the Blazers do now? Williams played a huge role in last season’s success and also played major crunch time minutes for the Blazers. Can they find someone to replace his production? Or, does general manager Neil Olshey decide to eat up what little cap room the Blazers have going forward and offer Williams a contract? It’s a really tough decision, and the Blazers’ success in 2014-15 could depend on what Olshey decides to do with Williams.
Bring Williams Back:
Williams coming back to the Blazers would be a good thing. He had great chemistry with the rest of the guys, and he provided some much-needed veteran leadership. He played with LeBron James in Cleveland. He knows what it takes to win a lot of games. Along with his intangibles, Williams is still a decent backup point guard in the league.
The market will dictate what kind of offer Williams receives. If no one is seriously considering giving Williams a three-year deal, the Blazers surely aren’t going to give out a contract of that length. On the plus side, Williams isn’t going to demand more than $3 million per year anyway, so a two-year/$6 million deal is the max the Blazers could offer. I mean, Olshey could offer more, but there are going to be some major decisions made this season about the Blazers’ future.
Realistically, if Williams is back with the Blazers, it will be on a one or two-year contract. Portland simply doesn’t have the cap room to go out of their way to keep a player like Williams.
Let Williams Walk:
As stated, the market will determine what happens with Williams. If some organization is foolish enough to offer Williams a three-year contract without a team option or something built in, of course he is going to sign with that team. Bringing back Williams may completely be out of the Blazers’ hands at this point. If he walks, that might not be such a bad thing.
The Blazers have young players on the bench who need to see the floor. Another year of Will Barton, CJ McCollum, and Allen Crabbe on the bench could severely disrupt their development and eliminate any confidence they had about playing competitive basketball. We all know coach Terry Stotts likes to play veteran players, but he may be forced to play his younger players this season. If anything, Portland needs to find out if Barton, McCollum, or Crabbe will be good enough to contribute in the future. What’s the point of letting them rot on the bench? The only way to find out is by letting those guys get some playing time and try to find a groove.
The best-case scenario for Portland is another season with Williams, but only one more year. We’ll see how the chips fall in free agency; however, I could see Williams having a hard time attracting any suitors. Point guard is one of the deepest positions in the league. When there are so many options for teams to find a replacement or backup point guard, teams rarely give out anything but one or two-year contracts to aging point guards. The best-case scenario would be for all the teams to pass on Williams in free agency, leaving him helpless and team-less.
Portland, then, could swoop back in on a two-year contract with a team option at the end of next season. That way, Portland still can use Williams in emergency situations next year, keep the core of the team together, and still have some time to develop players like Barton, McCollum and Crabbe. Portland still needs a player like Williams to come off the bench, command the second unit, and fill a void in crunch time. They just can’t afford to pay Williams for three years. Portland needs the flexibility in the future, and they can’t be tied down because of an aging, backup point guard.