The Cleveland Cavaliers had until Wednesday to choose whether or not to waive backup point guard Mo Williams, but they chose to keep him for now, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. If the Cavs had waived him prior to the deadline, they’d get to stretch out the $2.2 million he is owed over three seasons and save themselves from incurring luxury tax penalties.
The team will still get away with not paying him the full amount should Williams choose to retire, and that’s something that’s still a possibility after it was reported over the weekend that he was considering walking away. In fact, Vardon reports the team is “highly skeptical” the veteran guard will return for 2016-17.
The decision to not waive Williams is motivated by the fact that the Cavaliers don’t necessarily have a backup for point guard Kyrie Irving. Former guard Matthew Dellavedova left for the Milwaukee Bucks in free agency (technically he was traded), and the only other point guard on the active roster is rookie Kay Felder.
A former All-Star with Cleveland during the 2008-09 season, Williams has played for seven different teams in his 13-year NBA career. He’s averaged 13.2 points and 4.9 assists per game since arriving in the league out of the University of Alabama as a member of the Utah Jazz in 2003.
Williams began last season as the starter when Kyrie Irving was out, but the veteran saw his role diminish over the course of the year due in part to nagging injuries that sidelined him during the Cavs’ run. He appeared in 13 games during the championship drive this past spring, but played just 5.2 minutes per game and scored 20 total points.
Should Williams, 33, decide to retire, the Cavs will mostly likely reach a buyout that will save them money. But if the veteran does leave, Cleveland is going to need to find a more suitable backup for Irving, unless the team is fine placing trust in Felder.
The Cavs did make an addition on Wednesday, agreeing to a deal with forward Cory Jefferson, according to David Pick. Jefferson played eight games for the Phoenix Suns this past season.