Report: Cavaliers are looking to trade for Louis Williams

Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Clippers

Lou Williams has been a great scorer in the NBA for many years. One of the last players to join the NBA straight out of high school, Williams has a career average of 13.4 points per game in only 24.0 minutes, averaging a large 20.0 points per 36 minutes for his career. And that number has only increased as he has aged, as the NBA becomes ever more receptive to the idea of the scoring point guard.

This makes him a wanted man. Williams has played for three teams in the last 12 months, starting the season with the L.A. Lakers (with whom he had signed as a free agent in 2015) before being moved to the Houston Rockets as a mid-season reinforcement in exchange for Corey Brewer and a first round pick. He was then moved at the end of the season back to Los Angeles, this time to the Clippers, as a key part of the Chris Paul package deal.

Now, it seems he might be on the move again.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that amongst all the other players they are also rumoured to be interested in, the Cleveland Cavaliers are also interested in trading for Williams. Stein reports that the Cavaliers are potentially leveraging the contracts of Tristan Thompson and J.R Smith in deals.

It would not be a straight-up deal of either. Both Thompson and Smith are paid in excess of their performance, so their inclusion in trade scenarios is not as assets. And Williams will cost a lot to both acquire and re-sign.

Williams is headed for unrestricted free agency this summer, which in a sense somewhat tempers his trade value. A player that a team might not be able to keep is less enticing of a prospect in trade than one under team control. But it also that means re-signing him will cost a lot of money - Williams has merited that with his play, with a career-best 23.2 points and 5.0 assists per game, including a 50 point outing.

The Clippers reportedly have held discussions about signing Williams to an extension, and while Collective Bargaining Agreement rules will make that difficult on account of Williams not being eligble for as big of a salary as his play should demand, it at least is evidence that they know what they have and want to keep it. Cleveland, then, will have to cough up the goods.

Nevertheless, Cleveland need to do something. Despite a huge winning streak earlier in the season in which LeBron James was a puppet master extraordinaire, that streak is in the past now, and the Cavaliers have lost eight of their last 11 games. Two of the wins were against the bottom-feeding Orlando Magic, and even those two were won by only a combined five points.

Williams might only be a gun for hire, and he might not like the fact that this is what his career has become of late. It is however a testament to how good he is. The Cavaliers need frontcourt help and defence perhaps more than they need another backcourt scorer, yet Williams is an upgrade to everybody in that role already except for a 100% Isaiah Thomas.

Cleveland last year were similarly shaky in the regular season last year, limping to the playoffs through a worrying stretch of play marked by terrible defence. They eventually picked it up a notch in the playoffs and were able to make their third consecutive NBA Finals appearance, but eventually ran out of talent. The same is happening again now. Therefore, if help is available, they need to get it.

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