Mo Williams is rumored to be holding a big deal, and $8.5 million, in limbo

Kelly Dwyer
June 28, 2012

Los Angeles Clippers guard Mo Williams started his career with the Utah Jazz in 2003. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, represents four members of the Jazz and has a years-long good working relationship with the team. The Jazz badly need backcourt scoring, but they don't want to break the bank for long-term deals, and Williams' contract runs out in 2013. A deal that would send Williams to Utah, as tossed out on Thursday by ESPN's Marc Stein, would aid the Dallas Mavericks in lopping a needed $2.4 million off its salary cap books this summer, and give Lamar Odom a second chance as a Los Angeles Clipper in a three-team trade.

So why would there be any obstacle in sending Williams to the Jazz on Thursday's draft night, with the deadline to decline Odom's 2012-13 option in Dallas looming on Friday? It's because Williams has the option to opt out of his contract next year, turning down a guaranteed $8.5 million in order to take on a longer and more secure contract, at age 29, even if it means making less than $8.5 million in the first year of his new deal. It's a smart maneuver, at his age.

Still, I think Williams can have his cake and eat it too, here. Especially if he warms to the idea of playing in a small backcourt in Utah alongside Devin Harris, on a Jazz team that gave up worrying about defense a long time ago.

Williams' game is to be respected. He's a stout scorer that can hit the open man but is at his best pulling up for the perimeter bomb off of a screen and roll or runner in the lane. Though he once showcased some speedy quickness, especially in his initial turn with the Jazz, athletic flights of fancy were never his calling card. This is why the Mo Williams that is looking for a mid-level, longer-term deal at age 30 in 2013 won't be too far removed from the Mo Williams attempting to look for the same at age 29 in 2012.

Except that the 2013 version of Mo, should he decline his 2012-13 player option, would be a few million poorer, after declining that $8.5 million.

Because there's very little that points to a steep decline for Williams during the 2012-13 season, and because the market for him is going to be as middling in 2013 as it will be this summer (even with loads of teams featuring cap space in both offseasons), it really does seem best for Mo to pick up his player option. Which would then, according to Stein, set the wheels in motion for this three-team deal. Mo is likely to get the same deal in 2013 as he'd get this summer, so why not work for $8.5 million along the way?

It has to happen quickly. Because, as we discussed on Wednesday, the Mavericks are desperately hoping to scrape away the $2.4 million they'd owe to Lamar Odom should they fail to trade him between now and Friday's deadline to make a choice with his 2012-13 team option. That choice, even before the terrible 2011-12 Odom spent in Dallas, was made a long time ago. But the difference between trading him outright or waiving him, $2.4 million, could act as an annoying obstacle as the Mavericks attempt to wheel and deal for any number of superstars with their 2012 cap space. Stars as fanciful as Dwight Howard (in a trade), Deron Williams, Steve Nash, or retaining Hall of Fame incumbent Jason Kidd.

The Clippers, capped out and staring down three eight-figure contracts in the future with DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin (assuming he stays in Los Angeles) need to find wing help via trade. Odom, apparently back to game shape, would be a sound fit in a third appearance with a team from Los Angeles.

The Jazz just want to win games by a 112-108 score.

It's all up to Mo, though.