The Cleveland Cavaliers stood pat at the trading deadline, but that hasn’t stopped them from bolstering their roster. The East-leading squad signed guard Deron Williams on Monday, and it could be on the verge of adding another big name in center Andrew Bogut.
Williams was widely rumored to be heading to Cleveland, after he had his contract bought out last week by the rebuilding Mavericks. “At the end of the day I felt like this was the best team for me. I felt like I would have a significant role here,” Williams told reporters at the Cavs’ arena Monday. He did not play in a game that evening against the Bucks.
In his second season in Dallas, Williams was averaging 13.1 points and 6.9 assists in 29.3 minutes before parting ways with the team. The 32-year-old has career averages of 16.6 points and 8.2 assists over 12 NBA seasons, during which he was named an all-star three times and won two gold medals with Team USA. The third overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Jazz, Williams spent five-plus seasons in Utah before being traded to the Nets in 2011.
Active assist leaders in the NBA
1) Chris Paul 8,059
2) LeBron James 7,288
3) Deron Williams 6,733
#3 recently signed with #2 's team
— NBA Quick Report™
At his previous stops, Williams has worn No. 8 jerseys, but that is already held by Cavs forward Channing Frye, so Williams is going with No. 31, leading some to wonder if he is making a reference to his new team having overcome a 3-1 deficit to the Warriors in last year’s Finals. Meanwhile, his new team’s resident superstar, LeBron James, is likely happy to have acquired a “playmaker.”
In January, with the Cavs going through a tough stretch, James had called out his front office, saying, “We need a f—king playmaker.” It took some time, not to mention another squad deciding to go with a youth movement, but Williams could fit the bill, albeit likely in limited minutes.
Williams indicated that he was fine with accepting a lesser role in exchange for a shot at his first ring. “Competing for a championship is something that I haven’t had a chance to do,” he said.
“It was kind of an easy decision for me,” Williams added. “I definitely looked at a couple other teams. But once Dallas informed me they kind of wanted to go in a different direction, the Cavs were the first team that jumped out at me. A lot of times you overthink things. I kind of went with my first thought.”
As for the possibility of helping lure Bogut to Cleveland, Williams said with a smile, “We’ve been in contact.” The 7-foot Aussie was bought out by the 76ers after having arrived in a draft-day trade from the Mavs, who acquired center Nerlens Noel in the deal.
Two Mavs sources say they expect Andrew Bogut will choose to join the Cavaliers once he receives a buyout from the 76ers.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 26, 2017
USA Today reported that Bogut was “weighing his options,” including the Cavs, Celtics, Rockets and Spurs. The 32-year-old former Buck and Warrior, averaging three points and 8.3 rebounds in 22.4 minutes this season, must first clear waivers to become a free agent.