If any team had a single glaring weakness last season that kept it from being successful, it'd be hard to argue that weakness was worse than the Portland Trail Blazers' bench unit. A capable starting five had too much on its plate for Terry Stotts' team in 2012-13, so the offseason goal was to change that.
Portland reached an agreement with point guard Mo Williams on Wednesday, which effectively communicated the goal being accomplished. His two-year, $5.6 million deal will help reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard find more time on the bench after he led the league in minutes played. Sure, the drafting of combo guard C.J. McCollum and shooting guard Allen Crabbe, along with the offseason signings of Dorell Wright and Earl Watson, will make the backcourt a bit crowded. Still, it's better to have too many options than none at all.
The Williams deal comes at a bargain for a team in a loose financial spot, too. He'll be a floor general with scoring punch off the bench and suddenly the Trail Blazers on paper look like a bottom-tier playoff contender.
With a starting lineup that should look similar with Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland no doubt has upgraded this offseason. The Blazers added center Robin Lopez in a trade that helped the New Orleans Pelicans and also grabbed second-year forward Thomas Robinson away from Houston, likewise helping the Rockets to ink coveted free agent Dwight Howard.
Knicks still after Beno, have other options
The New York Knicks would like depth behind starting point guard Raymond Felton and backup Pablo Prigioni. Beno Udrih remains their top target, but it remains to be seen if Udrih has a mutual feeling about the Knicks. New York only has a veteran's minimum contract to offer to the 31-year-old point guard and Udrih apparently is holding out in hopes of garnering more money elsewhere.
If he does get such an offer, the Knicks are prepared. The team worked out a number of players on Wednesday, including former lottery pick Sean May, forward D.J. White and guards Bobby Brown and Lester Hudson.
May was the 13th pick of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2005 and has played overseas since struggling to fit in the NBA. White played off the Knicks' bench last season, but Brown and Hudson are options in the backcourt, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Hudson played in China last year, and Brown is signed to a deal in the country but has an out-clause in his contract.
Another name to keep an eye on as the Knicks search for another point guard is Chris Duhon, a former Knick who played for the Los Angeles Lakers last season. Duhon reportedly has also fielded interest from the Philadelphia 76ers.
What's the best option? According to Seth Rosenthal from Posting and Toasting, Duhon isn't a very appetizing choice:
This is me scrunching up my nose and SMHing my head. This is me fully understanding Duhon is no more or less viable a third point guard option than, say, Bobby Brown (or Sebastian Telfair, while we're at it) is, but still not wanting Chris Duhon back in my life. Someone else, please. Someone worse, even. Just not Chris Duhon. (Update: Ian Begley hears a Duhon signing is "highly unlikely", which pleases me.)
Tolliver nearing decision
Forward Anthony Tolliver has narrowed his list of potential landing spots to three. The journeyman will choose between the Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz by this weekend and will give any of those three teams added frontline depth.
Tolliver averaged 4.1 points and 2.5 rebounds with the Atlanta Hawks last season in limited minutes. While he has a valuable skillset as a fairly athletic combo forward, he's struggled when receiving less-than-ample minutes. In the last two seasons, Tolliver has shot less than 40 percent from the field -- in the past, he's proven to be a decent-enough stretch forward who, when utilized for longer stretches, can find his range.
Oden officially joins Heat, takes it slow
Greg Oden officially inked a deal to join the defending NBA champs, but executive Pat Riley and the team aren't pushing him. And that's the appeal.
In a statement, Riley said that Oden will continue with his workout program and focus on returning to the court down the road.
"After many months of discussion, evaluations and speaking with Greg, we felt it was the perfect time for him to make his comeback and re-enter the NBA with the Miami HEAT," said HEAT President Pat Riley. "It's a great challenge for him. We know all about his past injuries, but we feel that there is a huge upside and the possibility of him helping us. We will continue his program and then we will tackle basketball issues after that."
Oden last played in 2010 and after a myriad of knee surgeries has a right to take his time. Joining a team that realistically can challenge for another title puts little pressure on Oden to return too soon. He's reportedly in shape and moving well, but it's another thing to jump into NBA action too soon, risking more injury problems.