Williams has made it known he intends to sign with Cleveland once he clears waivers, league sources told ESPN.
The Mavericks will pay Williams the roughly $2.5 million left on his contract, sources told ESPN. Besides the Cavaliers, the Utah Jazz, among other teams, are expected to express interest. It's expected that it will take Williams around 48 hours to clear waivers.
Dallas is preparing for rookie Yogi Ferrell to take the reins as the starting point guard, according to sources.
The Mavs held Williams out of practice the past two days while attempting to trade him. He spent the past season and a half with Dallas, his hometown team, after the Brooklyn Nets bought out the final two seasons of his maximum contract for $27 million.
"It was great having Deron and his family back home in Dallas for the better part of 2 seasons," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said in a text message to reporters who cover the team. "At this time the decision has been made to focus on playing our young guys, and the organization felt that giving Deron the freedom to choose his next team was the right thing to do. Deron still plays at a high level and I believe he will be a difference-maker for a contending team down the stretch of this season. We wish him and his family the very best."
Williams, 32, averaged 13.1 points and 6.9 assists this season but has been limited to 40 games because of injuries.
Cleveland coach Ty Lue was asked about Williams before the Cavs' game against the New York Knicks on Thursday.
"I always liked D-Will," Lue said. "He's a good player. Anytime you have a guy who is an All-Star, he's a great talent. So he can make the plays, he's a great pick-and-roll player, he can shoot the basketball. He has size, so you can switch 1 through 4 with him defensively. He can post smaller guards. So I've always been a big fan of D-Will."
Cavs general manager David Griffin would not address Williams specifically, but he did say Williams' skill set aligns with what Cleveland would like to add with its final roster spot.
"Obviously, we have a great deal of interest, and we've said it for a long time, in a playmaker," Griffin said. "I won't speak to specific names, just because nobody's free currently that's out there for us to talk about. But obviously, the need for a playmaker still exists, and we hope in all of these cases that we're the kind of organization and the kind of team that people want to be part of, and we feel that we'll be competitive in that market for sure."
The defending champs' brain trust presented a calm outlook after a quiet trade deadline.
"I like our team right now. I love our team, actually," Lue said. "I'm just focused on continuing to get better with our team that we have right now. We can't sit back and wish and think that we can get something we can't get. So I love our team, and I have to make sure we just keep getting better and better as we hit the playoffs."
The Jazz expressed some interest in reacquiring Williams via trade, but talks never reached a serious stage, sources said. Williams' 5½-season stint in Utah featured four playoff appearances and a trip to the 2007 Western Conference finals but ended with an awkward split when he was traded before the 2011 deadline.
Ferrell's surprising emergence after joining Dallas on a 10-day contract helped make Williams expendable. With Williams nursing a toe injury, Ferrell averaged 15.3 points, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals during a seven-game stint as a starter. Dallas went 5-2 during that span with wins over the San Antonio Spurs, Cavaliers and Jazz, highlighted by Ferrell's 32-point performance in a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Ferrell is an undrafted rookie out of Indiana. After his 10-day deal expired, the Mavs signed him to a contract that includes a team option at the minimum salary for next season.
Dallas reserve point guard J.J. Barea will miss at least three more games while recovering from a nagging calf strain. Carlisle said after Thursday's practice that the Mavs would look at their options to sign a point guard to a 10-day contract to provide depth.