Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor announced Friday that the team has acquired guard Maurice “Mo” Williams from the Los Angeles Clippers, pending the outcome of a physical, as part of a four-team trade in which the Clippers receive forward Lamar Odom from the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets receive the draft rights to the Clippers’ 53rd overall pick from Thursday, Furkan Aldemir of Turkey, and Utah sends the team’s trade exception to Dallas.
The Jazz obtained the trade exception in a deal with the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets along with a future second-round pick in exchange for center Mehmet Okur on Dec. 22, 2011.
Williams, a 6-1, 195-pound guard out of Alabama, is entering his 10th NBA season and has appeared in 589 career games with 432 starts, owning career averages of 13.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 30.4 minutes with Utah, Milwaukee, Cleveland and the Clippers. He has also played in 41 career playoff games with 25 starts and averaged 12.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
This past season Williams saw action in 52 games with one start for the Clippers, averaging 13.2 points, 1.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 28.3 minutes and helping L.A. to the best record in franchise history and a trip to the Western Conference Semifinals.
The 29-year-old native of Jackson, Miss., was originally selected by Utah in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft with the 47th overall pick. In his rookie season in 2003-04 with the Jazz, Williams appeared in 57 games (no starts) and averaged 5.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 13.5 minutes.
His best statistical NBA season came with Cleveland during the 2008-09 season, when he averaged a career-high 17.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists and hit 43.6 percent from three-point range in 81 games (all starts) and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star before helping lead the Cavaliers to the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.
This move, coupled with Utah’s picking up of its option year on the contract of Jamaal Tinsley, the 6-3, 197-pound point guard also entering his 10th NBA season, gives Utah four veteran point guards on its roster, with Devin Harris and Earl Watson rounding out the group.
Williams’ agent has already alluded to his client’s desire to start for Utah, which puts Jazz head coach Ty Corbin in a position to choose between starting Williams and Harris at the two guard positions and moving swingman Gordon Hayward to small forward or letting Williams and Harris battle it out for the starting point guard spot, which would leave way fewer minutes for Watson and Tinsley, both of whom stepped up for Utah at different times last season.
There is also the possibility that Utah might be looking at dealing one of its four points, with Harris being the most likely option to be moved, particularly if he’s uncomfortable with the prospect of coming off the bench.
Utah’s first big move of the summer has already opened the door to a world of interesting options for the team, and it’s very likely only the beginning of player offseason movement in Salt Lake City.