The move they didn’t make: Signing Grant Williams
Many Cavaliers fans have a negative opinion of Grant Williams because he once bragged he was going to make two free throws and missed both, leading to a victory by the Cavs. If they can set that aside, however, they would likely welcome his skillset as a perfect fit on the team.
Williams is one of the strongest players in the NBA, often defending the burliest of bigs like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. He is a savvy defender, able to execute the Boston Celtics’ complicated scheme of scram switches and weakside rotations. On offense he is a knockdown shooter and capable passer. He isn’t breaking anyone down off the dribble, but he’s the perfect role player for nearly any competing team.
The decision by the Celtics not to re-sign him is therefore ludicrous and by far their worst mistake of the summer. Williams was a restricted free agent, and rather than push deep into the luxury tax (and over the second tax apron) the Celtics let the Dallas Mavericks sign him away in exchange for a pair of seconds.
The Cavs should have been all over that deal, and could have been if they hadn’t signed Georges Niang to the Mid-Level as soon as free agency began. That’s not to knock the Niang signing in a vacuum, but Williams would have played the same position and been a significantly better two-way fit. He also would have given the Cavs the flexibility to move on from Jarrett Allen if the right small forward came available, as Williams and Evan Mobley are an ideal pairing at the 4 and 5.
If the Cavaliers had added Max Strus and Grant Williams, their optionality at small forward would have skyrocketed. They could go small with Strus, big with Williams, or space the court with both at the two forward spots. It’s water under the bridge now, but if Williams thrives in Dallas, the “what if” will continue to sting.