Derrick Williams refreshed after having contract option picked up
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A little added security could go a long ways for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams.
Williams received the extra vote of confidence he has been looking for after the Wolves decided to pick up the former 2011 No. 2 overall draft pick's $6.3 million option for next season.
"It helps," Williams said after practice Tuesday in a tone of modesty mixed with relief. "Your security is here. You're guaranteed at least one more year in the NBA. As long as you have that I think everything is good.
Williams spoke by phone Tuesday with Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, who is out of town on a scouting trip, about the team's decision to exercise the option. The two will meet Friday to further address the deal that will keep the 6-foot-8 forward in Minnesota until at least 2015.
That feeling of security is something Williams hasn't always had in his stay in Minnesota. As Williams' production ebbed and flowed throughout his first two seasons, and sporadic criticism of his play arose, speculation about his long-term future with the Wolves continually followed him.
Williams likely won't be completely freed from the trade rumors, but the extra contract year is helping to provide a revitalized state of mind and further fuel his redirected focus entering his third NBA season.
"It's tough. Ever since I've been here I've heard trade rumors. It seems like every other day it's something new," Williams said. "The only thing you can do about that is to keep playing. My security is here ... I'm just here to play basketball. If all those rumors were true I would have been gone by now. I'm going on my third year."
No longer encumbered by option talk, Williams is intent on establishing himself on the court at a level he has struggled to reach and maintain in past seasons. Down nearly 20 pounds from his weight a year ago, he looks the part of a refreshed player, but now he has to prove it.
The first order of business is to determine at which position Williams will be slotted into. Throughout the preseason, coach Rick Adelman has used him at both small forward and power forward, the spot where he started the final 46 games last season in place of an injured Kevin Love.
Trying to sort through his options at small forward, Adelman started Williams at the three spot in place of Corey Brewer in the Wolves' fifth preseason game Sunday against the Boston Celtics. He grabbed seven rebounds to go along with five points, shifting between the two positions and seeing playing time alongside Brewer.
"I think he's played very hard," Adelman said. "He rebounded the ball very well the other night, and it's a process for him. It's kind of a disadvantage when he has to play two spots. You're jumping back and forth. But right now, that's what we have to do."
It looks like the position change-ups will continue at least until the end of the preseason. Adelman said he hadn't decided if Williams will start in the Wolves' next preseason match-up Wednesday at Philadelphia, but expects the lineup rotation to be fluid as he tries to make a final decision.
In the long run, Williams feels he has matured to the point where he belongs in the starting lineup. But for now he is staying primed for the opportunity of a potential breakout season.
"The whole training camp I've been with the second team and it has really been helping me, with me and J.J. (Barea) coming off the bench," Williams said.
"We could bring a lot of firepower. But at the same time, being with the starting lineup, I think I deserve to be. That's the reason why they drafted me here. They didn't draft me to come off the bench and things like that. Ultimately it's up to Coach."