Free Agent Swap No. 4: Grant Williams for Max Strus
When we recently graded the offseason for the Cavaliers, we rated the sign-and-trade to add Max Strus as an “A-” because of the way it addressed shooting, gave the Cavs a proven playoff performer and was the best available option on the market. What if there was another player who was all of those things plus a great defender?
Grant Williams may not stretch defenses quite as well as Max Strus flying off of screens, but he also is a better career shooter at 37.9 percent, including two-straight seasons at 39.5 percent or better. He is money from the corners and would not be afraid to get up shots; in Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2022 he went 7-for-18, shooting his way right through the Bucks’ defensive strategy.
Speaking of defense, Williams is the rare player with the strength to take on burly centers and the foot speed and instincts to guard on the perimeter. He defended everyone from Jimmy Butler to Giannis Antetokounmpo to Joel Embiid over the past few seasons in the playoffs. Williams is a heady player who can fill whatever role asked of him.
Instead of signing Max Strus, a decidedly talented player who would help the Cavs’ shooting, they could have signed a bigger, more versatile player in Williams. He could have started at the 3, or he could have come off the bench as the backup 4 when either Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen are on the court as the lone big. Technically, since Williams was ultimately signed to the Mid-Level Exception, the Cavs could have signed both he and Strus; that would have been a coup of a summer.
The Cavaliers had a solid offseason and will be a better team next season. Could they have been even better by swapping one of those additions for a different player? Perhaps, but that shouldn’t take away from how the front office saw a need and attacked it. Max Strus, Georges Niang and Ty Jerome will have an impact next season as the Cavs look to win a playoff series and make a push to become bona fide contenders.