The Trail Blazers made a number of moves this offseason, capped off with this week’s signing of Mo Williams.
But are they moves a playoff team makes?
Blazer’s Edge ran down the career of Williams this week, including stints with some of the NBA’s best: Cleveland during the LeBron James era and the Clippers post-Chris Paul trade.
The story about Williams has been widely documented. Though sometimes criticized for inflated statistics (most notably when playing alongside James), Williams nonetheless holds career averages of 13.8 PPG and 5.0 APG. He also served as a strong ‘role-fitter’ for both Cleveland and LA, whether starting or coming of the bench.
Off the court, Williams was the player Neil Olshey, then the Clippers GM, traded Baron Davis and a first-round pick to acquire. It's clear that player and GM continue to have a positive relationship. For all these reasons—experience on playoff teams, a solid contributor in a variety of roles, and his relationship with Olshey—Mo seemed like a no-brainer pickup for the Blazers.
What may not be quite as obvious, though, is the league’s view of Williams: a player that, in this offseason, would have been an important and clever find for a contender.
The story not as widely publicized was the pursuit by the Memphis Grizzles to grab Williams. The chatter on Grizzly Bear Blues—a Grizzles companion blog on SB Nation—certainly felt like Williams was the best answer at the backup point. Another piece from Clips Nation, the Los Angeles Clippers affiliate blog, notes that Williams would have been a nice fit in Oklahoma City as well.
This isn’t to say Portland is close to the stature of OKC or Memphis. But with Williams being associated with those teams (especially Memphis), you start to get the feeling that this was a signing a playoff team makes.
As a Blazer fan, that has to boost your confidence.
Williams isn’t the first player like this, either. The Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson and C.J. McCollum finds this offseason (whether via trade, free agency or the draft) were also met with praise from various national media sources.
Again, a confidence booster.
Last season’s main theme seemed to consistently be "The starters can hang with most, but the bench is where the team is lacking." Obviously the front office felt the same, which is why Olshey spent the bulk of the available cap space on role players for the bench. But, as seen by the links from above, the feeling is the signings are moving the team toward that playoff direction.
You may or may not believe in the national media’s opinions toward decisions made by the Blazers. What you likely can believe in, though, are decisions made on players being targeting by contenders.
Those are the types of moves playoff teams make.