Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni offered an pessimistic foreshadowing on what Shawne Williams can do now that he ditched his small ball lineup for a bigger rotation.
“A lot of ‘Hey! Let’s go,’” D’Antoni said. “He hasn’t played so I don’t know what else.”
Williams offered an optimistic mindset on how he’s handle such a demotion after averaging only 3.2 points on 35.3 percent shooting in 13.6 minutes through five games. D’Antoni stressed the lineup switch had nothing to do with Williams’ shooting. Instead, D’Antoni said the switch had everything to do with his hope a big lineup with Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman would spark the Lakers after their small-ball approach yielded inconsistent results.
“He doesn’t have to explain anything,” Williams said. “It’s the pros. You just have to be a pro and stay with it. It’s a long season and your number will be called again.”
It turns out the player was right and the coach admittedly doesn’t have a firm grasp on his rotation. Mere hours after suggesting Williams should anticipate a string of “DNP’s attached to his name in the box score, D’Antoni played him in the Lakers’ 113-90 loss Sunday to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center.
Williams’ sudden promotion proved circumstantial, both because of Wesley Johnson’s early foul trouble and failure to contain Kevin Love from dropping 25 points on 8 of 17 shooting and four of nine from three-point range and hauling down 13 rebounds. But with Williams posting eight points on three of seven shooting and a two of five mark from three-point range while dishing out four assists, does this suggest he’ll slide back into the rotation?
“It suggests we’re searching,” D’Antoni said. “He definitely wasn’t playing and then we put him in. We have to find something that looks good and put our hat on it … We needed to spread the floor and that was the next best choice.”
That quality explains why D’Antoni initially kept Williams in the starting lineup despite his shooting struggles. It also helped D’Antoni coached Williams with the New York Knicks during the 2010-11 season when he recorded career-highs in points (7.1) and three-point shooting (40.1 percent). D’Antoni also invited Williams to training camp after the Portland Trail Blazers cut him last season, keeping him out of the league for an entire season.
With that, Williams has deferred to D’Antoni in every way on his role. Even with his demotion, Williams said he maintained his routine in pre and post-practice shooting as well as keeping a positive attitude.
“I feel like Mike was just trying to search for some energy because we came out flat,” Williams said. “The rotation is always subject to change. Coming in, it don’t matter if I don’t play. I just want to win at the end of the day. I got enough respect for Mike and Mitch [Kupchak]. I don’t question that. I know they’re trying to win.”
“He’s a great teammate,” D’Antoni said of Williams. “That’s one reason I love him on the team because I knew he would be ready anytime we ask him.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org