DALLAS — The Lakers lost another player, and for once, it didn’t involve an injury.
The Lakers waived small forward Shawne Williams Tuesday shortly before his $1.1 million deal would’ve become fully guaranteed at the 2 p.m. PST deadline. Technically the deadline is on Jan. 10, but a player must clear the NBA’s waiver process that takes up to 48 hours.
The Lakers retained Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly and Kendall Marshall, all whom have non-guaranteed contracts. According to a source familiar with the Lakers’ thought process, they waived Williams mostly for two reasons. The move leaves the Lakers’ roster at 14 players, giving them one roster spot needed that would give the Lakers more flexibility to shore up an injury depleted backcourt. That could happen either through a trade signing a player to a 10-day contract. It also didn’t help that Williams shot only 37.7 percent from the three point range and 32.7 percent from the field.
The Lakers will also save money in trimming their $79.1 million payroll and getting closer under the luxury tax slated at $71.7 million. WIlliams had a partial guarantee in his contract and made about $450,000 during his stint with the Lakers. But a source familiar with the Lakers’ thought process downplayed that component. After all, the Lakers passed on trading Pau Gasol to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum, a move that would’ve saved the Lakers about $20 million in luxury taxes after Bynum would be waived.
“He will fight for you in a heartbeat and he was a voice in the locker room,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I could trust him basketball wise anything I told him. He did the best he could do. He was good. I’ll miss him.”
D’Antoni liked Williams for his easy-going attitude and effort to reform his NBA career. A number of drug-related incidents tarnished his reputation and promise at the 17th pick in 2006 NBA Draft, wearing out welcomes in Indiana (2006-08) and Dallas (2008-09). But Williams attracted D’Antoni when he coached with the New York Knicks during the 2010-11 season, and recorded career-highs in points (7.1) and three-point shooting (40.1 percent). The Portland Trail Blazers also cut Williams last season without playing a game.
“In this business, we put labels on people and you don’t get to really know them,” D’Antoni said. “I’ve put a label on him before I got to know him. I know what happens. It’s the easy way out.”
Will Williams find another NBA gig?
“He should and hope somebody bites on it,” D’Antoni said. “They’ll be surprised and be happy with it.
Meanwhile D’Antoni expects to give an elevated role to Kelly. A second round draft pick from Duke, Kelly
averaged 5.2 points in 16.5 minutes while shooting both 50% from the field and from behind the arc.
“Over the long haul, Ryan Kelly is someone we want to try to develop,” D’Antoni said. “I see a very good basketball player.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org