Roster dilemma: What to do with Williams?

October, 13, 2009
10/13/09
7:49
AM CT

Opening Night rosters in the NBA have to be finalized Oct. 26.


The Mavericks thus have a shade under two weeks to make the two decisions they've been weighing since the start of training camp.


Conundrum No. 1: Do the Mavs have the room to keep an emergency third center?


Dilemma No. 2: What do they do with Shawne Williams?


The answer to the first question is most likely a reluctant no.


My ESPNDallas colleague Tim MacMahon has already detailed why the Mavs would prefer to hang onto 11th-hour camp invitee Jake Voskuhl as insurance behind Erick Dampier and Drew Gooden, after Voskuhl showed up slimmed down but as pesky as ever when it comes to running the floor and harassing opposing centers.


Yet all signs point to Dallas releasing both Australian project Nathan Jawai (scheduled to earn $736,420 this season) and then Voskuhl (who possesses a non-guaranteed contract) to make the NBA's 15-man limit.


One team source confirmed this week that the Mavs will indeed keep a full 15-man squad, but keeping Voskuhl would likely require them to buy out Williams' $2.4 million expiring contract.


Which leads us to the second question.


Williams, 23, was banished last season for what the club deemed to be consistently unprofessional conduct and has been offered in trades for months after the Mavs made a quick determination that last October's training-camp acquisition of Williams from Indiana and subsequent willingness to pick up Williams' option for this season were mistakes.


The Mavs remain open to buyout discussions with Williams' camp if a trade doesn't materialize, but one source with knowledge of the club's thinking told ESPN.com that the Mavericks are also exploring the feasibility of suspending Williams without pay for conduct detrimental to the team when the regular season begins. At present he is effectively suspended with pay, like Stephon Marbury and Jamaal Tinsley last season in Indiana and New York, respectively, until both players negotiated buyouts.


In a worst-case scenario, keeping Williams through the Feb. 18 trading deadline isn't the worst idea for the Mavs in case a trade scenario materializes that would be helped along by the inclusion of nearly $2.5 million of expiring salary.

UPDATE: Further examination of league rules and consultation with someone well versed in how they're applied turned up a very important clarification. All suspensions in the NBA are without pay. When Marbury and Tinsley were sent home by the Knicks and Pacers, those were not regarded as suspensions by strict NBA interpretation ... and the same goes for Williams' current status with the Mavs. The player, in such cases, is essentially placed on the inactive list after being sent away and continues to be paid. When a team imposes an actual suspension, as just seen with Golden State and Stephen Jackson, that player is docked 1/110th of his salary for every game missed.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9