PHILADELPHIA — Little has changed for the Lakers since a month has passed.
They’ve lost games. Their roster has suffered injuries. On and on it goes.
But for Shawne Williams, he described that moment a different way after his NBA future appeared in peril after the Lakers waived him.
“It seems like it’s been forever,” Williams said.
He didn’t have to wait anymore. The Lakers signed Williams Thursday to a 10-day contract after Nick Young suffered a non displaced fracture and bone bruise in his left knee, an injury that will keep him sidelined for at least two weeks. Within one day, Williams went from playing in the Development League to starting for the Lakers.
“Shawne knows what we’re doing,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s the perfect prototype and he gives us toughness inside that we need.”
D’Antoni has always a soft spot for Williams, believing his floor spacing and hustle epitomizes what he wants in the so-called stretch four position that’s critical in his fast-paced system. D’Antoni also credited Williams’ 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.
That’s why Williams sensed D’Antoni feeling uneasy when he informed him last month that the Lakers wouldn’t retain his contract in time for it to be guaranteed for the rest of the season.
“I felt like he was going to cry. His face was red,” Williams said of D’Antoni. “He almost made me cry. I veered off to the left. I understood it and it was something he couldn’t do anything about it or it wouldn’t have been done. It’s bigger than me and Mike in theis organization. This is a championship organization. They know what they’re doing and you can’t question what they do.”
The Lakers 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. It also didn’t help that Williams shot only 37.7 percent from the three point range and 32.7 percent from the field.
“Earlier I felt like I was thinking a little bit,” said Williams, who averaged 9.5 points on 49.1 percent shooting and 5.8 rebounds in four games with the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate. “I had a little wrist injury. But at the end of the day, those were shots I was supposed to make. There was a lot of thinking. I have to operate off pure nature.”
Williams gained that perspective amid a long month of uncertainty followed by the D-League.
“It was like a tease to me,” Williams said. “You’re so close, you feel you can grab it. But it’s not there. It’s a reality check. It’s a good experience. It’s not the NBA. But it helps you stay in shape and stay around.”
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