Sources told ESPN.com the Sixers put in a claim on Williams in the wake of his Wednesday release by the Denver Nuggets, who traded for him Wednesday in a move that was also intended to bring the Nuggets closer to the NBA's annual salary floor.
The Sixers, according to sources, then waived Williams to make roster room to sign guard Chasson Randle to a second 10-day contract.
As long as Williams goes unclaimed in the next 48 hours, Philadelphia will save an extra $1.1 million this season with its move to claim Williams, denying the Nuggets from the same amount of savings.
A former All-Star, Williams, 34, has not played this season and has been widely expected to retire after playing for Cleveland's championship team last season. Philadelphia technically becomes his fourth team this season, along with Cleveland, Atlanta and Denver.
According to NBA salary-cap expert Albert Nahmad, Denver now will clear just over $600,000 from its trade with Atlanta earlier this week to acquire Williams. The Hawks added $650,000 to that trade in cash, and the Nuggets paid Williams nearly $40,000 in salary before releasing him, according to Nahmad's calculations.
Denver thus remains a league-leading $9.9 million below the NBA's annual salary floor, followed by Brooklyn at $8.6 million. Acquiring Williams has brought Philadelphia within $5.6 million of the salary floor, with teams required to distribute any shortfall evenly at season's end among the players on their current rosters.