12:28pm: The Timberwolves have followed with a official announcement of their own (on Twitter).
12:09pm: The trade is official, the Hornets announced. Williams, Daniels and some cash go to Charlotte. Neal and the Heat’s 2019 second-round pick that the Hornets had acquired from a previous trade go to Minnesota, according to the statement. The Hornets have released Elliot Williams from his 10-day contract to make room on the roster, the Hornets also announced.
“We are excited to be adding two quality players to our organization,” Hornets GM Rich Cho said. “Mo Williams is a proven NBA player who gives us additional versatility and depth in the backcourt, both while Kemba Walker is out and after Kemba returns. Troy Daniels is an outstanding shooter who we are already familiar with from having had him in our training camp last season.”
11:50am: The Hornets and Wolves have reached agreement on a deal that would send Mo Williams and Troy Daniels to Charlotte and Gary Neal plus a second-round pick to Minnesota, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Shams Charania of RealGM originally reported the deal was close (Twitter link). The move represents Charlotte’s effort to make the playoffs and avoid having Lance Stephenson play point guard in the absence of the injured Kemba Walker, Wojnarowski tweets.
The Wolves acquired Daniels via trade from the Rockets on December 19th, so they can’t aggregate his salary in any deal until February 19th, the day of the trade deadline. However, since Williams’ salary of $3.75MM is within 150% plus $100K of Neal’s $3.25MM salary, that part of the swap can go as its own trade, and Charlotte can take in Daniels, who makes the minimum, using the minimum-salary exception. The Daniels part can function as its own trade, meaning he can go out on his own and the trade can become official before the deadline.
Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities on Monday identified the Hornets as a likely suitor for Williams, shortly before Wojnarowski reported that talks between the Wolves and Hornets regarding Williams and Daniels had reached an impasse after having taken place recently. It seems the sides worked out their differences within the past day, with Charlotte, coming off back-to-back losses to the Sixers and Pacers, likely the party that reignited talks, though that’s just my speculation.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported late last month that rival teams believed Wolves were making Williams available in exchange for a draft pick, and Wolfson identified the Cavs, Clippers and Heat among the “teams to watch” regarding the 32-year-old point guard. There was also a slight chance the Pistons would become involved, according to Wolfson. Ultimately it was the Hornets who emerged with him, and Williams tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that he can see himself finishing his career in Charlotte (Twitter link). However, Williams, who’ll be a free agent at season’s end, said earlier this week that he wouldn’t ask for a trade and wanted to sign a multiyear deal with Minnesota, as Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press wrote.
“This was a difficult decision because of what Mo brought to our team and the impact he had on our young guys,” Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders said of the move in the team’s statement. “As a coach, you wanted to keep him because of his professionalism and understanding of what you wanted out of him as a player. He scored 52 points against Indiana and did everything we asked him to do. On the other side, we knew we were moving in a different direction with our youth so we felt it was in our best interest to make the deal. We thank Mo and Troy for their contributions and wish them the best of luck in Charlotte.”
The Hornets were reluctant to give up future-focused assets for a short-term fix, GM Rich Cho told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer shortly after the Walker injury, but Bonnell argues the 2019 second-rounder isn’t much of a compromise from that position (Twitter link). Daniels, who’s averaged just 2.8 points in 7.3 minutes per game split between Houston and Minnesota this season after a breakout performance in the playoffs last year, comes at the cost of a guaranteed minimum salary for next season, but that, too, isn’t much of a sacrifice.
Neal, who’s enduring the worst three-point shooting season of his five-year career, departs Charlotte almost a year after the then-Bobcats acquired him from the Bucks in part because of the long-range threat he represented. He’s set to hit free agency in the summer, though Minnesota appears ready to trade him or work a buyout, so there’s a decent chance his stay with the Wolves will be a brief one.
Elliot Williams was on day No. 7 of the 10-day contract that the Hornets waived Jannero Pargo in order to accommodate. Today’s trade leaves the Hornets with 15 contracts that are guaranteed through the end of the season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.