Knicks 2015 Free Agency Round Table: Derrick Williams

Will the Knicks be the last NBA team Williams plays for?
Kurylo: True. Going to the Knicks has been like bringing that pet home to the kids. Just make sure you get something that is cheap enough, and easily discarded. I’d bet that since 2000, more players spent their last minutes on the Knicks roster than any other team. Recent examples from the last 3 seasons: Chris Smith, Metta World Peace, Jeremy Tyler, Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, Quentin Richardson, Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace, James White and Andrea Bargnani. Well I’m hoping about that last guy.

Gibberman: I’ll say no. Teams always need bottom of the bench fodder and someone with the athletic gifts of Williams can always find a team looking to take a risk. Just look at how many chances Michael Beasley has received.

Fisher-Cohen: I advocated trading for Williams when he was stuck behind Love in the rotation, getting ripped left and right by Rick Adelman and playing most of his minutes out of position. He seemed like a talented player whose development had been obstructed by an unsupportive coach. His inability to approach his college numbers (57% three point percentage!), even from the free throw line, seemed to support the idea that the Wolves had screwed him up mentally.

Now he’s 24, and he just hasn’t improved at all in his four year career, making him a lot less exciting of a player. Still, Williams is a competent end of bench player who I think will probably stick in the league for at least a couple more years because of his draft pedigree. If Michael Beasley and Hakim Warrick can do it, so can Williams.

Cronin: The dude’s still only 24 years old. I think he has at the very least two more teams left in him. Guys with this much talent in college tend to stick around for a while. Look at his most common comparison, Michael Beasley. Beasley has had a terrible career in the pros and yet teams (well, team – the Miami Heat) keep giving him a second, third and fourth chance.

Will Bismack Biyombo earn more money in the NBA than Derrick Williams, when both careers are done?
Kurylo: Derrick Williams will be 24 years old, and will have earned $31M after he’s done with New York. Biyombo will be 23 years old, and will have earned $19M after he’s done in Toronto. Derrick Williams won’t make another cent in the NBA after his Knicks contract is done. If Dwayne Casey can find a thousand minutes for 29 year old Tyler Hansbrough last year, and nearly twice that many for Amir Johnson, then Biyombo will likely see ample playing time. And there’s always room in the league for a center that can rebound, block shots, and run the floor for 20 minutes a night.

My money is on Biyombo, if there is any karma in this world.

Gibberman: Most likely yes.. Effective defensive centers eventually get paid, but sometimes it takes extra time for teams to catch up with guys not putting up box score statistics. He’s only 22, so carving out an Omer Asik type career seems plausible.

Fisher-Cohen: Biyombo is a specialist, so on the right team, he can be a big contributor. I’d say the odds are in his favor even with the current handicap. However, Williams has a huge advantage: his player option. Teams are going to be throwing money at anything that moves next summer, so if Williams is decent, he could end up with a big stack of money from an imprudent team.

Cronin: Fascinating question. I think Biyombo will have the longer career, but I think he might be looking at low-level contracts for the rest of the way. Williams, on the other hand, has a real chance at another $5 million contract out there, so I’m actually going to go with Williams. The main thing is that Williams has a big head start on Biyombo, money-wise.

If Williams is playing more than 24 minutes per game, chance that Derek Fisher will be fired before the season is over.
Kurylo: 100%. This guy brings nothing to the table. A moderate amount of scoring volume, at an efficiency that would be embarrassing for a New York city street court, and nothing else. He doesn’t rebound, pass, steal, block shots, or even hit threes or free throws at the rate you’d expect from an NBA player. I’m sure Fisher will find playing time for him, especially after Carmelo Anthony gets hurt from playing lots of minutes. Williams will be win the KnickerBlogger “Jason Smith Award” in 2016.

Gibberman: Depends on the context. If Anthony ends up getting hurt again Fisher might not have a choice. If the Knicks are showing growth and Williams keeps getting thrown out there while playing poorly that won’t be a good look.

Fisher-Cohen: I think Fisher has another year without a ton of pressure. Jackson hired him. He’ll get burned in the process if he fires him, so unless we’re at like 10-30 come the midway point, I doubt he gets fired. I mean, consider the depth chart. The Knicks have Anthony, Porzingis, Williams, Early and Antetokounpo at the forward spots. O’Quinn will probably play center primarily while Afflalo may or may not be the starting shooting guard. There aren’t great alternatives.

Cronin: With this roster, is Williams at 24 minutes even all that crazy? Fisher can only play who he is given to work with, so no, I don’t think Fisher is going anywhere any time soon. If Year 3 is also terrible, then his seat might get a little warm. But not yet.

What does this signing say about the Knicks’ front office?
Kurylo: It takes the luster off of it for sure. Fans are mixed about Porzingis, but the front office can always fall back on Zinger’s “potential” as an excuse. Afflalo seems reasonable and a low-risk move. But sometimes you can judge a team by who they fill the bench with, and Derrick Williams stinks. He’s shown nothing. Actually that’s not true. He’s been given more than 6000 NBA minutes and has proven that no team should be seriously considering him for their roster.

Gibberman: Williams is the one move the Knicks have done this offseason that I haven’t supported immediately or come around on. If they give him a chance and he continues along the path of his previous play there’s no reason to play him. I don’t think Williams turns his career around, but he’s only played for the Timberwolves and Kings. You can’t find two more poorly run franchises during that time. Lets not get it twisted here either, New York isn’t far behind. Williams going to be interesting to see if they can do a better job developing him than they did. There are some useful physical tools here. Good organizations find ways to maximize what players have versus letting their flaws shine through.

Fisher-Cohen: I could have better appreciated this deal if not for the player option we gave Williams. Because of that, you can’t even rationalize the signing as high risk/high reward as on the off chance Williams gets his shooting touch back (after four years…), he leaves.

That says to me that Jackson’s thinking hasn’t changed much. He’s thinking short term — get players on “discounts” by giving them a player option on the hope that next year’s FA class doesn’t look past the Knicks’ win total and see the valuable role players are free agents. Maybe he thinks that this season will prove to the league that the triangle is awesome and that that will sell free agents.

In either case, he’s wrong. Players are smarter than that. Dwight Howard cited the youth and cap flexibility of the Rockets as the the thing that sold him. Monroe likely went to the Milwaukee Icicles for the same reason.

Jackson has done some good things, but he’s still making too many bad choices for me to buy into the possibility that this team could become great under his stewardship.

Cronin: I don’t think any one move defines the front office either way, but yeah, this was an awful, awful signing. Not only is $5 million too much for Williams, but the player option given to him was insane. Just cuckoo. If the only way that you can woo Derrick Williams to play for your team is to give him a player option after year one, then just let him go. There is no way that you need Derrick Williams so badly that you give him a player option after year one. So now your best case scenario is that he turns his career around and opts out of his deal. How does that make any sense? How in the world did Derrick freakin’ Williams have the leverage in the negotiations to get that player option? It doesn’t make any sense. The Afflalo second year player option was dumb, as well, but at least Afflalo sort of kind of had a market out there.

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