Cavs sign Derrick Williams
The Cleveland Cavaliers have announced the signing of Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract, with the 2010 Pac-10 freshman of the year set to earn $67,000 during this period. After which, head coach Tyronn Lue will make a decision as to whether to sign the former New York Knicks and Miami Heat forward for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
Williams has certainly demonstrated his credentials with the Wine and Gold to date, averaging 9.8 points, three rebounds and 0.3 steals on 60% shooting from the field, including 37.5% shooting from three.
With such statistics helping the Cavaliers to the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference, and the favorites for the NBA title in the sports betting as a result, Cleveland would be wise to keep hold of a player with such talents, despite the 25-year-old featuring for just 91 minutes on the court. As of the 24th of March, online bookies Betway Sports have the Cavs as the second online favorites for a second successive year with odds of 4/1, with the NBA finals beginning on June 1.
The Cavaliers have outscored opponents by 20.6 points per 100 possessions with Williams on the floor, as opposed to being outscored by 3.1 points when it sits. It comes as little surprise that LeBron James is so happy with Williams’ contribution, stating:
"We're happy to have him. It's not many places you're going to find a [6'8"] wing with athleticism like that at 25. So we're lucky to have him. He fits perfectly. Energy and effort. Those West Coast guys love to run the floor, and my little league coaches used to tell me I look like a West Coast guy because I like to run the floor as well, so we fit in perfect."
Alongside Williams’ ability to guard various wing positions as well as providing valuable spurts of scoring, the Cavs new signing has the potential to become a key contributor for the team should he commit in the long-term.
Elsewhere for Cleveland, with an roster spot open, the Cavs have recently met with former Milwaukee Bucks man Larry Sanders, with the free-agent having stepped away from the court following the 2014-15 season. Coach Lue met with the 6-foot-11 forward alongside team officials, however with rumors speculating that talks have since broken down, the future of Sanders remains up in the air.
With All-Star forward Kevin Love recovering from knee surgery, that is likely to keep him out of action for another month, The Cavs are in the market for another frontline player, with Sanders athleticism seemingly making him the perfect player.
The Cavs returned from the All-Star break on Thursday and will practice before hosting the New York Knicks on Friday, just a few hours after the trade deadline. Despite holding a three-game advantage over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs are in danger of losing their No.1 seed spot. However, James and Co are unlikely to worry too much even if this does occur, with the Cavs having won the 2016 NBA title in Golden State’s back yard.
After a disappointing All-Star weekend, the Cavs remain in the hunt for a back-up point guard, with LeBron James suggesting that the team require a new playmaker. Iman Shumpert, DeAndre Liggins, and Kay Felder are all sharing minutes at the point guard position.
Just two months now stand between the Cavs and the start of their Championship defense, and with the playoffs slowly getting closer, starting on April 15, the team remain unchallenged in the Eastern Conference. However, despite their success in both 2016 and so far this year, they must face up to some significant problems if they are to win another title. Injuries have certainly taken their toll on the team, with Love’s latest problems adding to their worries, with the wear and tear of their superstars unsettling their consistency.
On top of this, the Cavs must ensure that they do not peak to early, with Cleveland having played their best basketball during the postseason in each of the past two years. Although there is little sign of this to date, it is certainly a real danger, with former Atlanta Hawk Kyle Korver knowing all-to-well about this potential. Korver was part of a team that blitzed through the winter period with the Hawks in the 2014-15 season, only to be swept aside by the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals just a few months later. The Cavs are 5/2 with Betway on February 28 to win the NBA Championship.
Motivation for the remainder of the regular season could also be an issue, with no more games against the Golden State Warriors to come. Of course, a team with the NBA’s highest payroll and full of superstars should hardly need additional motivation, however perhaps Lue will have to earn his money by ensuring that the high standards in which his team have set are not compromised. The Cavs are yet to be challenged by any team in the Eastern Conference in the past two years, with a 7-0 record against the league’s No.2, 3 and 4 seeds, the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors.
Of course, the Cavaliers are not guaranteed to win the Eastern Conference or make it to the NBA Finals, however at this stage it appears uncertain as to who can stop them. With 29 games remaining of the season, many eyes will be on Cleveland, both internally and externally.