Lighter Derrick Williams on trade rumors: 'Hopefully, I'll fit here'
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams says he remains unfazed by his name continually popping up in trade discussions as the hectic NBA offseason carousel continues to spin.
Down 15 pounds in anticipation of seeing more time at small forward, Williams spoke to reporters on Friday after the team's first minicamp practice in advance of the NBA Summer League, which begins next Monday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Williams acknowledged he had an "up-and-down rookie season, but if I would have played a little bit better, I wouldn't be in those (trade) talks."
Chosen No. 2 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, Williams was the highest selection in franchise history but went through a rookie season mired with inconsistent minutes and even more inconsistent play. Now he finds himself on the trading block less than two months after his 21st birthday.
Williams' name has been reported in a number of trades dating back to draft day last month, when the Wolves offered him to Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 2 overall pick. Lately, he has been the centerpiece of sign-and-trade discussions for Portland Trail Blazers swingman Nicolas Batum.
"I don't really attention to it," Williams said. "It is not my job to worry about that. My job is just to get out here and play basketball. All that stuff going on, it happens. Everybody goes through it, so I just try to push through it, and hopefully, I'll fit here."
Williams said he weighs in at 233 pounds after ending last season at 248. Much like his teammate Kevin Love did a year ago, his goal is to show up at training camp in the fall a much slimmer version of his former self, with a goal weight of 225 pounds.
Joked teammate Wesley Johnson, "He isn't the chubby one anymore."
The former Arizona Wildcat has been working out two or three times a day in Los Angeles, mixing in yoga, running on the beach and basketball.
The slimmer physique and lighter frame is necessary for Williams as he continues the transformation from power forward to small forward, where he figures to focus his energy in summer-league play.
"As of right now, they just have me running the (small forward)," Willaims said. "A little bit of everything on the wing, posting up, coming off screens, pick-and-rolls. I think I might do a little bit differently this season with the ball in my hands.
"So far, it has been good. The transition, learning the new spot, I think it will be good for us."
Wolves assistant coach Terry Porter said summer league is the time to move guys around and put them in new spots to see how they handle themselves in a relatively low-pressure environment compared to the bright lights of a regular season game.
"I will know more after we play more games," Porter said. "This is the first practice, but he looks good. Once you get in the games, you start to get a feel for him and how he is going to react being in that (small forward) spot, out on the perimeter a lot more. It is something he hasn't done a lot of, and that's why we do it."
New spot, more experience
Adding to the uncertainty for Williams is that he is moving to a new position while the team very openly courts Batum, who would likely take that starting spot if he is acquired by the Wolves.
"He is a great player," Williams said of Batum, who reportedly will receive a four-year, $46.5 million offer sheet the Blazers have said they'll match.
"I have seen him play before this season, even before I got to the NBA, but it really isn't about him or anything like that. It is about me getting better."
This will be the first opportunity for Williams to play in the summer league after it was wiped away a season ago because of the NBA lockout.
Williams is one of three players on the 21-player minicamp roster that was on the team last season, Malcolm Lee and Johnson being the others. They will be joined by second-round pick Robbie Hummel and a mixture of overseas players and undrafted rookies.
Williams refused to put any of the blame for his poor rookie campaign on the quirky schedule that came along with lockout, citing how NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving didn't exactly have a trouble making the adjustment. Instead, Williams put the onus on himself to play better and is excited to have a full summer with the Wolves staff.
"Like I said, if I played a little bit better this (past) season, maybe we wouldn't be having this talk right now," he said.
Another card working in Williams' favor was nasal surgery that now allows air to pass through his nose better. Williams went in to have a deviated septum fixed and the doctors actually discovered his nose was broken.
"I can actually breathe out of my nose now," Williams laughed. "I knew (it was an issue), I just didn't think it was that big of a deal. I just tried to play through it. I am just glad it happened and I can breathe a bit better now."
The Wolves' summer-league opener is at 9 p.m. Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.