According to Shams Charania of the Vertical, the Cleveland Cavaliers have signed Derrick Williams to a 10-day contract. The veteran forward is in his seventh season having most recently played with the Miami Heat. Drafted as a small forward, he has played some power forward as the league shifted smaller at the position. With J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert injured, he provides some additional depth for the Cavaliers on the wing as well as another option to experiment with as Richard Jefferson struggles to find his shot.
Free agent Derrick Williams is signing a 10-day contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 9, 2017
The Cavaliers had held try-outs for multiple veteran players last week, but decided against signing anyone. Lance Stephenson, who was included in those try-outs, went on to sign a 10-day contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Stephenson made his debut last night and played well into crunch time; guarding Toronto Raptor’s star Kyle Lowry. Hopefully, Williams can provide the same sort of immediate impact for the Cavaliers.
Williams was part of the 2011 draft that netted the Cavaliers Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. There was some debate pre-draft over whether the Cavaliers should select Irving or Williams with the first pick. Chris Grant miraculously made the correct decision with Irving going first to the Cavaliers and Williams second to the Timberwolves. The Cavaliers now have the first, second, and fourth picks from the 2011 draft on their roster.
While not the “playmaker” that LeBron James has been begging the Cavs to acquire, Williams’ signing could provide cover to get James some much-needed rest. While the Cavaliers have said James’ minutes will drop from the 36-38 range down to 32-34 somewhere around the trade deadline, it has yet to happen. Williams’ ability to play power forward or small forward gives the Cavaliers some flexibility should James need to cut back his minutes or sit out entirely in the next few weeks. James is already likely to rest Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Williams never lived up to his pre-draft hype and has disappointed in most of his stops along his NBA career. He did put together a solid season for the New York Knicks last year, and the hope is that his role will not require him to do much beyond being a functioning NBA player. He doesn’t provide the shooting the Cavaliers normally covet, but he has the size and length to take on difficult defensive assignments to save James from having to battle with those players.
With the NBA trade deadline two weeks away, Williams’ contract will also not hamper the Cavs ability to make moves around the deadline, unless he flourishes and is signed to a longer deal.