As you know, the Spurs recently signed journeyman forward Reggie Williams off the D-League Oklahoma City Blue to a 10-day contract to fill the 15th roster spot after a surprising and unpleasant bit of business with JaMychal Green. We'll probably never know what happened with Green, but my guess is the Spurs wanted to offer the league minimum and his agent wanted the league minimum plus a pack of gum. Clearly, the young man hadn't gotten over himself, so off he goes into the great beyond. He'll likely draw interest from multiple teams, and he'd have to have the worst agent in the world to not have a backup plan before declining the Spurs' offer, but I still wonder if Green and his agent were thinking soundly about the big picture here. I realize I'm going to sound like a homer Spurs fan, selfishly trying to cling to a young, cheap asset, but objectively speaking, Green spent the past two seasons being weened in the Spurs system, both in Austin and San Antonio. He showed he had a relatively decent understanding of their offense. Why throw all of that development away for a few more bucks to go join a new program where he doesn't know the plays, the coaches or his teammates? It makes no sense for an unproven player who needs every break he can get. I guess he feels like his skills are polished and versatile enough where he can fit in quickly anywhere, and it's true that he's mostly an energy guy, but it seems like an unnecessary gamble to me.
Meanwhile, Green's replacement, Williams, must be wondering what's going on with his career. Here's a guy who averaged 15.2 points on 49.5 percent shooting (35.9 from downtown) with 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 24 games as a rookie for the Warriors in 2009-10, even starting ten games. The next year he was a solid bench guy for them, playing 80 games, playing 20.3 minutes, and averaging 9.2 points and shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 42.3 from three. From there though, it's been all downhill. He signed a free agent deal with Charlotte and disappeared, as people tend to do playing for Charlotte. He didn't make it out of training camp for the Rockets in 2013 or the Heat this summer, and in between there was a cup of coffee in March for the Thunder, a 10-day contract that didn't get renewed.
He's spent the season playing for Oklahoma City's D-League team, surely wondering how he went from a fellow averaging 15 points as a rookie to a 28-year-old who Blue himself. Williams is a career 46 percent shooter and 37 percent from three-point land. How terrible must he be defensively to not have a regular NBA job nailed down. How bad of a teammate is he? Does he refuse to shower, like Sting? Does he refuse to pay gambling debts after card games on flights? What is the deal? How does a wing with a career PER of 14.6 find himself in such dire straights? I realize by VORP standards that Williams is the absolute definition of a "replacement player," but it's mystifying to me that he's not at least making good money overseas. He must really hate paella, gyros and dim sum.
I'm not sure what to make of Williams, but what I do know is that not only did his NBA stats regress year-by-year since 2009, but so have his D-League stats. He's gone from averaging 26.4 in 31 games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2009-10 (which got him his call-up to the Warriors in the first place) to averaging only 16.8 for the Blue this season (albeit on 49.2 percent shooting from downtown).
The thing to understand about the D-League is that the "D" certainly doesn't stand for defense. Games there are basically like the All-Star Game every night in terms of competitiveness and intensity. Nando De Colo was basically Russell Westbrook in the D-League. Cory Joseph somehow couldn't miss from deep in the D-League. I was looking up D-League stats for this story on basketball-reference.com and under the heading "recent greats," were the names Andre Emmett, Jerrelle Benimon, James Michael McAdoo and Arinze Onuaku, all of whom could've been made up by the NBA2K draft class generator for all I know.
Say, you know who's tearing up the D-League of late? What if I told you there's a kid up at Austin who's been averaging 21.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks. You'd be intrigued in the team calling up this athletic, box score-stuffing physical specimen, right? This guy must be another Kawhi, surely.
From now on I'm taking Pop's advice and refusing to make a big deal, or even any kind of deal, over any D-League signing, regardless of their stats or pedigree. The D-League is basically Slamball. I know it's kind of my job to write about this stuff, but let's all have enough sophistication to ignore any and all D-League news from now on. Please.