|Lou Williams is reportedly set to opt-out. (Getty Images)|
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Philadelphia 76ers guard Lou Williams is set to forego his player option for 2012-2013 so that he can become a free agent this summer.
Guard Lou Williams, the 76ers' leading scorer, will opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of this season and become an unrestricted free agent, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.CSNPhilly.com reports that Williams feels a loyalty factor to the Sixers.
If he were not to opt out, Williams would be due $6.4 million from the Sixers.
Said the source: "He's indicated that he's not going to pick up his option. All indications are that he's going to opt out."
"I was excited at the time for management to take a chance on my future as opposed to the numbers I actually put up at the time," Williams said. "They took a big chance on me and that is something I will be forever grateful for and it is one of the reasons I remain loyal to this team and for that deal to possibly be up this summer; it's been a long time coming. I have been here for awhile so if the opportunity presents itself for both sides to sit down at the table then everybody I am sure will do their due diligence."This one is a no-brainer.
Williams, 25, is averaging a career-high 15.0 points, 3.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds this season. He's shooting a career best 36.2 percent from deep and become a go-to option for the Sixers late in games. The multi-talented scorer is currently enjoying the highest profile of his career, as he's drawn consideration for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award and seems poised to head into a consistently productive prime after putting up steady numbers for three straight seasons.
Opting out this summer amounts to cashing in on the combination of proven skills and the potential for more as he continues into his mid-to-late 20s. Williams would join a 2-guard free agent class expected to include the likes of Ray Allen, Jamal Crawford, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo, J.R. Smith and Nick Young. When everything shakes out, he should be near the top of that list when it comes to interest. A nice salary bump and long-term security are undoubtedly in his future.
Philly showed a willingness to invest in forward Thaddeus Young during the December free agency period and has both Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday on affordable rookie deals through 2012-2013. Paying what it takes to retain Williams and keep a talented, young guard trio in place seems like a wise course of action.