Don’t look now, basketball fans, but the Cleveland Cavaliers open training camp in just a couple weeks. In fact, for those of you who follow the Cavs players on Twitter, you may have noticed that several players are already in town and working out at Cleveland Clinic Courts. The air is beginning to cool, the leaves are turning, football is on TV, and basketball will finally be here before we know it. This is one of the most exciting times of the year.
For the Cavaliers, before they can head into camp, there is still one unanswered question that is lingering. Will Jawad Williams be a part of this team in 2010-11? The restricted free agent small forward has yet to accept the qualifying offer the Cavaliers on the table for him, and time is running out for him to make up his mind on what he wants to do.
Presumably, his options are pretty limited. By making their qualifying offer to Jawad, he is essentially a restricted free agent, giving the Cavaliers the right to match any offer sheet he signs with a different team. Should he want to come back to the Cavaliers, he can either try to negotiate a multi-year deal with the team or else he can just accept the qualifying offer, play out this season, and then become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Some are probably scoffing at the notion that the Cavaliers would be concerned with an undrafted free agent who averaged 4.1 points and 1.5 rebounds last season with an efficiency rating of 8.20. However, Williams showed in small spurts that he has potential to be a serviceable backup on a good NBA team, and there has even been some talk that Jawad could very likely wind up starting on this Cavaliers team in place of LeBron James.
With the exception of a workout with the San Antonio Spurs, all has been quiet with Williams this offseason. The Spurs never made an offer to Williams, nor has any other team. Perhaps Jawad is waiting to see if the Cavaliers will offer him a multi-year deal (which doesn’t seem likely at this point), but whatever the case, it feels like both sides are just waiting for the other side to make a move.
In addition to Jawad’s potential to start for the team, though, the Cavaliers are also waiting because his decision impacts the Cavs’ roster breakdown. As of right now, their roster looks as such:
- Mo Williams
- Ramon Sessions
- JJ Hickson
- Anderson Varejao
- Antawn Jamison
- Anthony Parker
- Jamario Moon
- Leon Powe
- Boobie Gibson
- Ryan Hollins
- Joey Graham
- Christian Eyenga
- Samardo Samuels (Only $200k of his $500k salary is guaranteed)
- Danny Green (fully unguaranteed)
That leaves Jawad as the last roster spot. If a player in training camp really steps up and impresses Byron Scott and Chris Grant and they decide they want him on the roster, they will have to make a move to do so if Jawad is on the team.
Danny Green’s contract is fully unguaranteed, but if he’s on the roster on opening night, a guaranteed clause kicks in making his contract $125,000 guaranteed. This makes Danny Green the more likely candidate to be waived if the Cavs need to make a move. Samardo Samuels’ $200,000 guaranteed money may not sound like a lot, but it’s 40% of his contract value and the incoming player would likely be a league min deal anyway, meaning in that margin, the $200,000 becomes more significant when they can waive Danny Green for free.
The Cavaliers’ season may not live or die on whether Jawad Williams accepts his qualifying offer or not, but there is certainly a trickle down effect to be felt, and that makes this situation worth watching. Furthermore, the Cavaliers no longer have a top flight talent on the team in LeBron James, so they must depend even more on taking advantage of their depth. Looking at the roster above, we know the Cavaliers for sure can feel comfortable with the first 9 players being on the floor, and Jawad Williams is a potential 10th player that can fit into Coach Scott’s new schemes, with Ryan Hollins and Joey Graham possibly making the Cavaliers a 12-deep team.
Once upon a time we may have had more exciting story lines to follow heading into training camp, but for now, this is the stuff we have to work with. On a personal level, I hope Jawad joins the team before the start of camp and doesn’t miss any time with the team, and I would be surprised if that’s not what happens. For now, though, all we can do is join the Cavaliers in waiting to see what he decides to do.