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3 ideal free agent destinations for Lou Williams

Lou Williams

Lou Williams can still fill up the cup. The 34-year-old guard and three-time recipient of the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award is coming off a split season between the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers. He finished the regular season averaging a combined 11.3 points on 39.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc in 21.6 minutes per contest.

Williams is a smooth, proven scorer who’s capable of assuming ball-handling duties. He plays in isolation, creates separation, attacks the rack and is a willing shooter from any part of the floor. With both the Hawks (last season) and Clippers (the better part of the last four years), Lou Williams flaunted a keen ability to be instant offense off the bench and serve as a veteran resource for the young guards around him.

In all likelihood, Williams will seek out an NBA contender in free agency, as he’s yet to hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy in his 16-year NBA career. Here are three ideal free agent destinations for Lou Williams.

Lou Williams landing spots:

3) Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers appear to be sticking together, for the time being. Working under that mindset, Lou Williams would be a stealthy signing for the Trail Blazers.

As is, new head coach Chauncey Billups has an extremely young bench in need of veteran accompaniments. Lou Williams would be part of the team’s backup backcourt, potentially serving as the lead guard. One way or another, his offense helps pick up the slack when Lillard and CJ McCollum come off the floor. He creates his own shot and can facilitate for others.

Williams and the Trail Blazers have a commonality: they’re each looking for a ring. The veteran has seen a lot and was just two wins away from appearing in the NBA Finals last season while the Trail Blazers haven’t won a Western Conference Finals game since 2000. Both parties have a common goal and a lot in common.

Midseason pickup Norman Powell is a free agent and poised to get a hefty eight figure salary, which would be pushing the envelope for the Trail Blazers’ long-term payroll. Williams poses a cheaper and nearly as impactful alternative to Powell. That said, Lou Williams could view the Trail Blazers’ precarious backcourt situation as too risky to commit to.

2) Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks have $30-plus million in cap space and need scorers. Lou Williams would be a savvy addition to new head coach Jason Kidd’s rotation.

Kidd could justify both starting and bringing Williams off the bench given the amount of voids in the team’s rotation. Williams can be on the floor at the end of games, serving as a viable scoring option next to Luka Doncic in both scenarios. The former’s ability to score off the dribble and stick outside jump shots makes for a tremendous skill set to have next to the team’s point forward.

His playoff experience bodes well for a team that hasn’t escaped the first round since 2011. There’s also the element of Williams’ cap number coming in low enough to the point where the Mavericks can make other impact moves for their starting five. For instance, they can sign Williams and still make a push for a free agent guard like Spencer Dinwiddie or Dennis Schroder and attempt to re-sign Tim Hardaway Jr. Having three of the aforementioned players present alongside Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis makes for a lethal offense attack.

Williams is adept at playing alongside stars and/or varying personalities. The Mavericks very much fit the bill for his services. Simply put, though: there’s a team that could use Williams a little more than the Mavericks.

1) Memphis Grizzlies

Lou Williams and the Grizzlies are a superb pairing.

Yes, head coach Taylor Jenkins has a bevy of guards and swingmen behind Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks like Desmond Bane, De’Anthony Melton and Grayson Allen. At the same time, this team needs a boost to get past the first round in the West, and Williams gives them a much-needed veteran presence. He’d improve a team that was 15th in the NBA in points per game (113.3), 18th in field goal percentage (46.7 percent) and 20th in three-point shooting percentage (35.6 percent).

Williams is a tenacious player, and the Grizzlies are a gritty team. He gives them someone who can score in crunch time and in the playoffs when Morant and/or Brooks are off the floor. Jenkins needs people he can lean on for offense outside of his starting backcourt, as well as a new dimension to his offense. The latter comes from internal growth and outside reinforcements. Williams assists them in that regard.

Memphis has the pieces in place to take the next step. They need to properly complement their foundation. Adding players like Williams would be doing precisely as such and allow the organization to make other moves in free agency. Perhaps they add Williams and a big man who has been down a similar career path as the guard?