Mo Williams is 27, healthy and has three years and $26 million remaining on his Cleveland Cavaliers contract. But none of that mattered much to him this summer after he watched LeBron James leave the Cavs to join the Miami Heat. Williams said he was so depressed by James’ exit that he considered walking away from the NBA.I can't say I'm really surprised. I mean, Mo Williams thought about retirement, that's not really all that crazy. He's going from one of the best situations in the NBA to one that is decidedly worse.
“That’s how bad it got,” Williams said. “I contemplated it. I really sat down and envisioned life after basketball. …I really saw myself not playing.
“It just didn’t make sense to me. …It doesn’t make sense to me.”
“This summer was very, very stressful for me,” Williams said. “I really lost a lot of love for the game this summer.I can understand how Mo could be so upset. Hell, we all felt upset and we weren't the guys going to work with LeBron everyday. The Cavs certainly looked like they had good team chemistry these past couple years. I can see how one could feel jaded after their team captain declared that he's taking his talents to South Beach.
“You play this game for one reason. You play to win games and win championships. I couldn’t understand why a lot of things were happening to our organization, to a really good basketball team. I couldn’t really understand it. And when you don’t understand things, it can really stress you out.”
Williams is slowly adapting to the new Cavaliers, who, along with their new coaching staff, will have a new offense that will be heavy on pick-and-rolls. Scott might play Williams at shooting guard with Sessions or Daniel Gibson running the point. In addition to being relied upon to score more, Williams inherits additional leadership responsibility with James and veteran center Zydrunas Ilgauskas gone.
“It’s crazy because ever since [James left], everybody I see, they approach me and say, ‘Hey, you’re going to be able to play your game now,’ ” Williams said. “ ‘You are going to be able to show everybody what you got,’ or ‘you’re going to be able to do this.’ I was happy with my role. We were winning basketball games. I was coming home every night a winner.
“Who can’t love that? That is what playing a role on a team is all about. …Everybody can’t be the star. I was perfectly comfortable being that piece.”
One of the more frustrating things (speaking as a Cavs fan, though I'm sure this is true for members of the organization) about LeBron leaving is how close they were to a championship. Yes, the Cavs folded early in the playoffs these past few years but you don't win 60 games entirely due to one player. The Cavs had stumbled a bit but they were heading in the right direction.
Teams have to learn how to win, then have to make the playoffs, then have to win in the playoffs, then they had to deal with being expected to win and then they win. That's how these things tend to play out. The Cavaliers struggled mightily with being the favorites. Mike Brown was better at coaching overmatched, scrappy underdogs than dealing with a veteran ballclub that was expected to win. They were at that last step.
And then LeBron left.
So am I surprised that Mo was jaded and contemplated retirement? Not really. I can completely understand how LeBron's decision could affect him so much. Now, had Mo actually retired? Ya, then I'd be shocked. But he didn't.