Chris Broussard reports the Knicks and Derrick Williams have agreed to a two-year deal for $10 million. The second year is a player option. This signing leaves New York somewhere around $3 million under the cap. I'm no capologist, but I know there are still bi-level/mid-level/apron permutations available for teams under the cap.
Williams was the second pick in the 2011 draft by Minnesota out of the University of Arizona. He lasted two-plus seasons with the Timberwolves before they sent him to Sacramento for Luc Mbah a Moute. At 6'8" and 240 pounds, Williams has size and athleticism, but he's struggled with his shooting since joining the league, hitting just 42% from the field as a T-Wolf and 44% as a King.
Remember the struggles Iman Shumpert had finishing at the rim? Williams doesn't have those struggles.
That's the good news: Williams shot 70% from three feet and in. The bad news is his other shooting numbers are the world's ugliest palindrome: 31% from 3 to 10 feet, 35% from 10 to 16, 35% from 16 to the arc and 31% from three. He's also been known to do this:
Williams hasn't grown the way you'd hope for over four seasons, but it's hard to know how much of that is intrinsic and how much is environment. He's played on awful teams his entire career, yet despite that has never managed to average more than 24 minutes per game. There were other teams talking to him in free agency, including Dallas; the same skill-set that fails to impress as a franchise player or an All-Star might shine more lustily as an eight man. In Minnesota, Williams' total rebounding percentage was 20%. He's long, a characteristic shared by Phil Jackson's Chicago and Los Angeles rosters that we're seeing now in New York; the congealing mass of the Knick frontcourt has added quite a bit of size between Kristaps Porzingis, Robin Lopez, and Williams. Add another big or two and the Knicks can resume exploiting Carmelo Anthony as a playmaking 4 on offense while assigning bruising or demanding defensive matchups to his teammates. Phil's original Chicago trilogy liked to use their length and athleticism to press. A lineup featuring Jerian Grant, Langston Galloway, and Williams could press, especially when facing other bench units with shakier ballhandlers.
For $5 million this year and possibly $5 million the next (peanuts in a $90 million salary cap world), why not take a shot on a guy with youth (24), size, athleticism, and the potential of untapped potential? Williams seems unlikely to ever be a star, but he may work out in a role where he just needs to provide energy and be a threat in the corners (since leaving Minnesota, he's hit 40% of his corner threes). That makes three contracts handed out by Phil Jackson and every one's reasonable.