Mo Williams

And-Ones: Game Ball, Mo Williams, Zion, Kobe

The NBA will be making a change to its on-court product starting in 2021/22 that figures to be felt by players — even if it’s hardly noticed by fans. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the NBA’s long-standing relationship with Spalding is coming to an end, as the two sides have mutually agreed to part ways. The league has reached a deal with Wilson to produce the NBA’s official game ball, starting in ’21/22.

As Haynes details, the NBA has been using Spalding balls since 1983, though Wilson manufactured the league’s game balls before that. Wilson, which will also begin producing balls for the WNBA and G League, is already the official game ball of the NCAA tournament.

According to Haynes, the NBA and NBPA will have a significant amount of input on the new game ball, and the leather and product specifications will remain unchanged, which should go a long way toward creating a smooth transition from Spalding to Wilson.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Mo Williams has been hired by Alabama State as the school’s new men’s basketball head coach, according to a press release from the program. Williams, who had previously been an assistant coach at California State University at Northridge (CSUN), had a 13-year NBA career, earning an All-Star spot in 2009 and a championship in 2016, his final season.
  • The legal battle between Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and his former marketing representative – Prime Sports Marketing president Gina Ford – took another interesting step forward this week, as Ford’s attorneys are pushing to get Williamson to admit he accepted unauthorized benefits at Duke. Dana O’Neil and Diamond Leung of The Athletic and Michael McCann of have shared informative breakdowns explaining what to make of the latest developments in the case.
  • The facility previously known as the Mamba Sports Academy is dropping the “Mamba” moniker, announcing that it will retire that part of the name and “raise it to the rafters” in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. After initially stating that the decision was made out of respect for Kobe’s legacy, Sports Academy later clarified that “it was a mutual agreement made in accordance with the wishes of (Bryant’s) estate.”

And-Ones: BWB Asia, Gambling, Williams, G League

The Thunder’s Corey Brewer, Nets’ Caris LeVert, Heat’s Kelly Olynyk and Mavericks’ Dwight Powell will coach top high school age campers from the Asia-Pacific region in the 10th edition of Basketball Without Borders Asia, according to an NBA release.

BWB Asia 2018 will be held May 30–June 2 at The NBA Academy India in Delhi National Capital Region. Players and coaches will lead the campers through a variety of activities on and off the court, including movement efficiency, positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, 5-on-5 games, and daily life skills seminars.

In other developments from around the league:

  • New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney voiced strong opposition to the sports’ leagues request for sports betting fees, ESPN Chalk’s David Payne Purdum tweets. “They are calling this extortion attempt an integrity fee, even while fully aware that providing participants a stake in the volume of betting would amount what could more accurately be called an anti-integrity fee,” Sweeney said. The NBA later defended its position, saying its games are the foundation of what will be bet on, the Associated Press reports. “We believe it is reasonable for casinos to compensate the NBA with a small percentage of the total amount bet on our games,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.
  • The NBA is projecting the salary cap to inflate by $7MM in 2019 and some of that projection might include some anticipated new gambling-related revenue, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. While the cap could rise due to gambling-related income, it won’t cause a dramatic increase in the future, Windhorst adds.
  • Former NBA guard Mo Williams will join Mark Gottfried’s staff at Cal State Northridge, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweets. Williams played for Gottfriend at Alabama, Goodman notes.
  • The G League showcase has been moved from January to December and Las Vegas is a strong contender to host it, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Orlando is also being considered as a host site, according to League expansion is a major reason why Las Vegas and Orlando are potential landing spots for the showcase.

Free Agent Rumors: Gay, OKC, Wolves, Hawks

Free agent forward Rudy Gay will hold meetings with potential suitors in Austin, Texas this weekend, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). The Thunder have long been rumored to have interest in Gay, and Wojnarowski notes that Oklahoma City continues to view Gay as a potential fit on its roster.

In addition to Gay, Blake Griffin has long been considered a probable 2017 free agent target for the Thunder, and in the wake of Wednesday’s Chris Paul trade, Royce Young of (Twitter link) wonders if OKC likes its chances of landing Griffin any more. The Thunder won’t have the cap space to sign Griffin outright, but could make a sign-and-trade work. Still, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes, Griffin would have to want to play in OKC, and there has been little indication of that so far.

Here are a few more free agent rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) identifies Mike Dunleavy Jr. as a potential free agent that will be on the Timberwolves‘ radar, noting that Minnesota needs shooting and Dunleavy has played for Tom Thibodeau before. Dunleavy technically remains under contract with the Hawks, but his 2017/18 salary features only a small partial guarantee, so it’s possible he’ll be waived soon.
  • Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor views Jimmy Butler as the sort of player capable of helping the Wolves attract notable free agents to Minnesota, per Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. The club is believed to be in the market for a free agent point guard, so Butler’s influence may be put to the test very soon.
  • The Hawks have many players eligible for free agency this weekend, and may explore the market for outside targets, but new general manager Travis Schlenk doesn’t expect the team to rush to get anything done at 12:01am on July 1, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution details.
  • After missing the entire 2016/17 season, free agent point guard Mo Williams is working toward a possible NBA return, agent Raymond Brothers tells Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski adds that Brothers is now representing free agent forward Brandon Bass as well.

Nuggets Notes: Mudiay, O’Bryant, Williams, Nurkic

Nuggets coach Michael Malone isn’t concerned about point guard Emmanuel Mudiay’s sore back, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post reports. Mudiay has missed three consecutive games but Malone doesn’t believe Mudiay will be sidelined much longer. “The treatment he’s been getting has been helping him, and all of the results from the testing coming back don’t show that there’s anything serious,” he told Dempsey. “So, that allows you to take a deep breath and say it’s not a long-term thing.”

In other developments regarding the Nuggets:

  • Forward Johnny O’Bryant received a 10-day contract on Thursday because the club needs frontcourt depth in the short term, Dempsey adds in the same story. Darrell Arthur, who has a knee issue, is among the big men who are nursing injuries, Dempsey adds. “I was talking to [Nuggets GM] Tim Connelly that it would be great to have another big here, ready, insurance,” Malone said to Dempsey. “If we have to play him and suit him up, he’s played in an NBA game, he has a skill – he can step out and shoot the ball.”
  • Guard Mo Williams has cleared waivers, Marc Stein of tweets. The Nuggets claimed him for the second time on Monday because of salary floor implications. Denver will save over $1MM through its latest Williams transaction (Twitter links).
  • The Nuggets are trying to move center Jusuf Nurkic and could package him with Kenneth Faried to upgrade their backcourt, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reports. Nurkic has drawn interest, in part because of his rookie contract, Deveney continues. But the Nuggets would either have to make it a multi-player swap, find a team below the cap, or involve a third team to make a trade work, Deveney adds.

Nuggets Sign Johnny O’Bryant To 10-Day Deal

JANUARY 26: The Nuggets have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed O’Bryant to a 10-day contract.

JANUARY 24: The Nuggets intend to sign free agent power forward Johnny O’Bryant to a 10-day contract, reports Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Denver was previously believed to be lining up another 10-day deal for Alonzo Gee when a roster spot became available, but it seems the club has opted to go in another direction.

O’Bryant, 23, was the 36th overall pick in the 2014 draft, and spent his first two NBA seasons with the Bucks. In 100 games for the club, O’Bryant averaged 3.0 PPG and 2.4 RPG. The LSU product signed as a free agent with the Wizards prior to training camp last fall, but didn’t earn a regular-season roster spot with the team.

O’Bryant subsequently joined the D-League’s Northern Arizona Suns, and has averaged 18.5 PPG and 8.7 RPG in 24 games for Phoenix’s affiliate this season. He has even added a three-point shot to his game, making 38.0% of his attempts and averaging more than one three-pointer per game.

With O’Bryant set to join the Nuggets, Mo Williams has been waived by the team to create a roster spot. The move was expected after Denver claimed Williams off waivers on Monday. Earlier today, I explained why Williams’ contract appeals to the Nuggets, who have now traded for, cut, and reclaimed the point guard. Denver will hope that he passes through waivers this time around.

Eastern Notes: Williams, Payton, Biyombo

The Nuggets are waiving Mo Williams for the second time in a week, but this time, the Sixers are not expected to claim him, Marc Stein of tweets. Philadelphia is planning to keep Chasson Randle on the roster, so they don’t have a spot open for the retired point guard.

Williams’ contract holds value for the Nuggets and it would for the Sixers as well since both teams are under the salary floor, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors detailed earlier today. The point guard has already been paid over half of his salary, which is worth slightly under $2.2MM, but the whole amount would count toward a team’s salary cap. If the team doesn’t reach the salary floor, the transaction of waiving Williams would save the franchise roughly $1MM this season.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic GM Rob Hennigan is “encouraged and excited” about the play of Elfrid Payton this season, as he tells Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “I think especially over the last few weeks he appears to be gaining a level of aggressiveness and comfort at the position that I think bodes well for our team,” Hennigan said. “I think, like anyone on our team, our goal is to improve. Our goal is to get better. And we need to explore any means necessary to do that. But certainly with E.P.’s play and his work ethic and our belief in how good he can become he’s certainly an integral part of our team and very, very valuable to us.”
  • Hennigan said free agent addition Bismack Biyombo has brought the Magic exactly what they were looking for when they signed the big man, as Robbins passes along in the same piece. “I think Biz has brought to our team exactly what we anticipated: his toughness, his energy, his spirit, his ability to be a paint presence defensively. Like most of our players, we think his best basketball is still ahead of him based on his age and his work ethic,” Hennigan said.
  • Rookie center Willy Hernangomez is earning a larger role on the Knicks, Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes. “He’s got great knowledge of the game, understanding and feel,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He has no fear when he gets out there about who he’s playing against. When you have a guy who knows how to play the game, a lot of good things happen.”

The Value Of Mo Williams’ Contract

It has been a bizarre few months for Mo Williams, who was expected to serve as the Cavaliers’ backup point guard behind Kyrie Irving this season. Before training camp got underway, however, Williams’ agent informed Cavs GM David Griffin that his client was retiring. The news came just five days after Williams himself had tweeted about playing the 2016/17 season.

Williams later underwent surgery on a troublesome knee injury, having received a third opinion after two doctors advised the veteran point guard that he didn’t require surgery. At the time of his procedure, Williams appeared to take a veiled shot at the Cavs, writing on Instagram that no one cared about his health except him. Months later, there has been no indication that Williams plans on coming out of retirement anytime soon — he’s no longer represented by an agent, according to Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers (Twitter link).

A funny thing happened to Williams during his absence from the NBA though. Despite the fact that Williams hasn’t appeared in a single game and likely won’t return to the court this season, his contract has become a hot commodity. The Cavaliers traded it to the Hawks, who in turn sent it to the Nuggets. Denver waived Williams, but Philadelphia claimed him off waivers. The Sixers cut him immediately, only to see the Nuggets claim Williams again.

So what exactly is going on here? Let’s start with the motivation for the Cavs and Hawks to use Williams’ contract in trades…

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Nuggets Claim Mo Williams Off Waivers

Mo Williams has been claimed off waivers by the Denver Nuggets, Marc Stein of ESPN reports (Twitter link). Denver is expected to immediately waive Williams, opening up a roster spot to retain Alonzo Gee on a 10-day contract, per Stein (Twitter link).

Williams, thought to be retired, has been involved in a number of transactions over the last month. The 34-year-old was dealt from Cleveland to Atlanta as a part of the Kyle Korver trade, and then flipped to Denver for the draft rights to Cenk Akyol. Williams was then waived, claimed by Philadelphia on January 20, and claimed once more by Denver today.

If the Sixers want to claim Williams off waivers again this week, they’ll have to either terminate Chasson Randle‘s 10-day contract early or waive one of the other 14 players on their roster — the team no longer has an open roster spot at its disposal.

As Bobby Marks noted in an article for The Vertical, the newly agreed upon CBA would make this type of transaction obsolete. As of July, the player’s days of service will determine his cost against the minimum team salary; not his full cap hit. Williams’ circumstance is the type of “loophole,” Marks describes, in which teams will keep low payrolls on the roster only to make waiver claims or trades in an attempt to reach the salary floor.

Sixers Claim, Waive Mo Williams

5:13pm: The Sixers have waived Williams, according to Tom Moore of the Courier Times (Twitter link). This maneuver allows the team to add Randle to the roster without needing to clear an additional spot.

4:29pm: Mo Williams has been claimed off waivers by the Sixers, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link). The 76ers will have to clear a roster spot to accommodate Williams, as the team reportedly just re-signed Chasson Randle to a second 10-day contract as well. Adding both players would bring the roster count to 16, one over the 15-man limit.

The Sixers’ reasons for picking up Williams are financially motivated. The point guard’s $2.2MM cap hit will bring Philadelphia that much closer to the salary floor, but the team will only be on the hook for about half of that salary, since he has already been paid more than $1MM of it. Williams, who indicated in the fall that he would retire, has yet to appear in an NBA game this season.

This will be the third transaction Williams has been involved in since January 6th, when the well-traveled point guard was shipped to Atlanta in the Kyle Korver trade. Williams was then dealt to the Nuggets in exchange for the rights to 2005 draft pick Cenk Akyol. It remains to be seen whether Williams, who has suited up for seven different teams during his 13-year career, will return to the court with Philadelphia. Williams hasn’t filed his retirement papers, and underwent a surgical procedure on his left knee in October.

The Nuggets now have a vacant roster spot, which they may use to re-sign Alonzo Gee to a second 10-day contract. Gee, whose 10-day contract expired on Wednesday, has appeared in 10 games this season with Denver, scoring 11 points with 14 rebounds in that span. A 29-year-old veteran of six NBA teams, Gee averaged 22.4 MPG in 73 games with the Pelicans last season.

Stein’s Latest: Nurkic, Millsap, Gay, Tucker

The latest column from’s Marc Stein is filled with fresh rumors as next month’s trade deadline approaches. We’ve already shared the Bulls’ interest in Chris Bosh and the Magic’s offer for Goran Dragic. Here are some more intriguing trade tidbits:

  • Nuggets big man Jusuf Nurkic is almost certain to be traded before the February 23rd deadline. Denver officials admitted that pairing Nurkic with Nikola Jokic didn’t work, and they want to ship him to a team where he has a chance to be a starting center.
  • Teams are very skeptical about the Hawks‘ assertion that All-Star forward Paul Millsap has been pulled from trade consideration. The 31-year-old has a player option worth nearly $21.5MM for next season and is expected to test the free agent market.
  • The Kings had numerous offers for Rudy Gay, mostly during the offseason but also more recently, but elected to keep him in hopes of earning a playoff spot. The Thunder, Heat and Blazers were the most interested teams last summer. Gay is out for the season after tearing an Achilles tendon Wednesday night.
  • The Kings would like to find teams willing to take Ben McLemore and Arron Afflalo.
  • The Clippers offered the Suns a future second-round pick for P.J. Tucker, but Phoenix is holding out for a first-rounder. The Clippers owe their first-round pick this year to Toronto and in 2019 to Boston, so the next first-rounder they could offer would be in 2021.
  • Tucker and Brandon Knight are considered the most available Suns. Coach Earl Watson said this week that the team will not trade veteran center Tyson Chandler.
  • The Nuggets would like to sign Alonzo Gee to another 10-day contract once Mo Williams clears waivers. Gee’s first 10-day contract expired Wednesday, the same day Williams was waived after being acquired in a trade with the Hawks.