Report: Wolves, Maurice Williams agree to 1-year, $3.75 million deal

Zach Harper —  July 28, 2014 — 15 Comments
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The Minnesota Timberwolves made a free agency play today.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Wolves have agreed to a one-year deal with former Portland Trail Blazers backup point guard Maurice Williams. The deal nets Williams $3.75 million, according to Woj, and gives the Wolves and Wolves’ fans the backup point guard they’ve been craving.

So… what does this mean? Here are my initial thoughts on what this signing means, in bullet form!

This is a nice signing for the Wolves in terms of giving Ricky Rubio a proper backup point guard. JJ Barea was thrust into that role this past year and along with the rest of the bench failed miserably. Barea had by far the worst season of his career (not counting first two seasons when he was still trying to crack rotations). Some of this was his own decision-making and some of it was the fact that he didn’t have any scorers or shooters to space the floor for him to be effective. Wolves fans will look at him negatively for this but I think that’s a bit of a mistake. It’s fine not to like him but he was misused in a role that doesn’t suit him this past season.

When Barea came aboard in 2011-12, he was a change of pace scoring guard off the bench. He was supposed to play off ball and be a similar role to how the Mavericks had just used him in their championship role. He ended up starting games in the playoffs because it ruined opponents with match-ups, but really his role was to be the secondary action off the ball, and be able to attack in pick-and-rolls or off drive-and-kicks in the middle of the play as the defense was scrambling and recovering. They surrounded him with shooters and gave him the space to operate. This didn’t happen in Minnesota and he certainly didn’t have another way of playing. I do recognize that was on him on many levels but it was also on the team, either due to injury or due to poor roster construction. It didn’t help that Rubio couldn’t prove to Rick Adelman last season the flashy plays would be left behind in the first three quarters. This led to Adelman trusting (sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly) a more veteran, experienced ball handler on the floor in fourth quarters a dozen times in the season. That’s not Barea’s fault, but he’ll get crucified (along with Adelman) for it because it didn’t work out.

– We’re kind of talking here like Barea is gone, even though he’s very much under contract this season. I think it’s safe to say he is gone though. The Wolves have a very crowded backcourt right now. You have Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin as the current starters (you know, until Love is traded and then who knows what happens?). Then you have Zach LaVine, Maurice Williams, Alexey Shved, and JJ Barea. It seems likely the Wolves will try to move Martin and Barea in deals. There was talk earlier in the month of Shved trying out more of a lead guard role, but with Williams and LaVine on the roster, this could likely mean he’s on his way out too. It’ll be tougher to deal Martin with three years left on his deal, but Barea and Shved are in the final years of their respective contracts. Should be much easier to deal.

– I’ve decided I’m only referring to him as Maurice Williams. I don’t know why. It just seems right.

– As for Maurice vs. JJ as a player, their play last season is actually quite similar. Check out the comparison here. Barea was better at taking care of the ball, better at assisting teammates, and a better volume scorer. He also got to the free throw line more. But the biggest differences are 1) the height of 6’1″ vs. 5’9″-ish and 2) the shooting percentages. Barea had the worst shooting season of his career with huge drop-offs in both field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. Williams had a drop-off but was still a very acceptable shooter out there. His biggest issue is hijacking possessions and some bad turnovers. Although, on this team without Love, I’m not sure how much of a problem that will actually end up being. It was a big problem for a Blazers team in the hunt.

– Hey, another Blazers role player!

– Here’s something to be wary of with Maurice Williams: he’s a moody guy. We know Barea had a tendency to pout, not get back on defense, and even throw a tantrum or two at weird times. Williams isn’t quite that bad, but he has a bit of a reputation as a difficult guy to deal with. It’ll be interesting to see what his outlook is with this team, knowing he just signed with a team that is going to trade its only superstar. With that said, I like a little feistiness with a gunner mentality for a backup point guard off the bench. And Maurice can shoot the ball. He’s a career 38.5% 3-point shooter and even with him hijacking possessions, you can live with a guy that believes in himself while possessing that jumper. The moodiness adds a little attitude on the court and that isn’t a terrible thing for a bunch of young guys needing to learn confidence. Williams has confidence and then some.

– No, this shouldn’t have any effect on a potential Kevin Love trade with Cleveland. Williams can’t be dealt until December 15th, and even then he can veto any trade because he’s signed a one-year deal. Doesn’t mean he wouldn’t allow a trade to be with LeBron James in Cleveland again; we should just hope that a trade is made before the season starts and isn’t waiting around until mid-December.

– I’m a firm believer in the idea that in this Collective Bargaining Agreement, there is no such thing as a bad one or two-year contract. Only giving Williams one year at this money is truly a perfect signing for improving the bench. This is a good move by Flip Saunders, whether this is a good or bad team.

– He’ll help you learn how to shoot, kids!

 

Zach Harper

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15 responses to Report: Wolves, Maurice Williams agree to 1-year, $3.75 million deal

  1. Man, I want to go out there and finish on my tip toes.

    Allowing my imagination to stretch a bit here, but Mo Williams signs with Portland ahead of last year when the team’s star power forward was reportedly disgruntled and searching for greener pastures to bolster their second unit.

    The Blazers end up having a superb season, albeit without the bench production they may hoped for, as Williams, Freeland, Robinson & Co. finished last in points-per-game.

    Now in moving onto the Wolves, it’s only fair to conclude that Williams has realized his true calling in the league; joining a team with a frustrated star player on a friendly contract, creating the impression of an improved bench, and of course, enjoying a turnaround season that keeps said star player in town. Simple math, and as the video encourages, finishing on his tip toes.

  2. Although you said something to the contrary in the post, I’d like this signing a lot more if we WERE in the hunt and a potential upgrade at the backup PG spot meant something, especially with a veteran who’s not going to grow with the team.

  3. Yuck

  4. I can’t come up with a strong feeling on this one. He’s started at PG for good teams in the past, so it works with what they need off the bench. I don’t hate JJ, but playing him in the role they did last season was a notable mistake.

  5. Until the Wolves aren’t the worst run franchise in professional sports I’m not going to blame JJ Barea for not excelling when played out of position in a role he had never taken on in his career. This is just exhibit #45,654,345 of the Wolves collectively being totally clueless in how to assemble or manage a roster. Barea would be an above average contributor if they would just have played him in the manner the Mavericks did.

  6. I guess it is an OK move. Mostly, I think, because of the veteran leadership he could bring. With the impending departure of Love, and maybe Martin, that really only leave Rubio and Pek in a leadership role, and I’m not sure how much either of them wants to embrace that role, or how much either of them (being European) would be able to relate the young guys on the team. It they end up getting Wiggins, and maybe Bennet, and also keep Levine (they better), Robinson III, Dieng, and Shabazz, that’s basically 1/2 of the roster being rookies or 2nd year guys. Although I would not be too surprised if Shabazz or Robinson left in a trade too. (I could also see Robinson winding up in the D league for the start of the season.).

  7. Positive move, bring in a veteran to help younger guys. A Guard who has balls, plays D and fights. Get rid of the whiners.

    On another note, who cares how young are team is. At least Mr. Saunders is making a roster that fits and makes sense to us fans. Have players that play both ends not just one end of the floor.

    Trade Love to get Wiggins, Bennett, 1st round pick then trade to get that PF from Sixers.

    Love the hype!

    God bless to the Wolves..

  8. I agree with gjk. Our most glaring need last year was a back up point guard, which Barea isn’t. I just wish Flip had realized that last year before he traded Ridnour. I don’t blame Barea for not being a back up point guard, that is just not his role. I do think, though, that this probably signals that a deal has already been made, it just can’t be announced yet.

  9. I am not saying this this player is a good player to sign to more then a 1 year deal, but actually think a three-four year deal for the right players is a good move. The salary cap probably goes up alot in 2 years with the TV deal which means player salaries go up when that goes up. If you get a the right players for 3-4 year deals then you get steals.

  10. All in one motion.

  11. So taking a walk in the “what if” world. If we do trade Love for Wiggins, Bennett and a couple 1’s as we’re hearing. A trade with Philly for Thaddeus Young would be an amazing piece to the all familiar “hope” product we Wolves fans have been buying for years. Would the 76ers take Shved/JJ and one of the Cav’s #1s? they’d save 2 million this year and 9 next + have that #1 to sale a little hope themselves. Not too bad but I would think they could do a lot better though. I’d be more than happy to throw in Shabazz if they would take him.

    I actually think we’re going to be stuck with Martin, but I also don’t think that’s so bad. He’s a good vet to go with the young guys and we’re going to need some vets on the floor at all times if our team gets as young as it is looking like it’s going to be.

    Personally I am still holding my breath until this deal is done (not really) I don’t know if the Cavs have figured out K Love yet but he is on 1 year hurt the next… He was not hurt last year /wink..

  12. Ball up.
    Hips down.
    Turn up.
    That frown.
    No reason to be sad.
    Future’s bright up in this place.
    Just need to not be bad,
    And get Alexey to change his face.

  13. I am not sure where the Love is injury prone thing came from. He has played in 77% games possible to him. If you remove the 1 year he was actually hurt he has been in 88%.

  14. Just watching some Synergy clips of Williams, the one thing JJ did that drove me crazy is something Williams doesn’t: dribble around without a plan. Barea’s a better shooter near the rim, but they did well in getting a guy who is used to being a PG and understands the responsibilities of that role.

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