NBA Saturday: Shawne Williams Returning to Knicks?
When the lockout comes to an end, Shawne Williams will be an unrestricted free agent. His contract with the New York Knicks expired on July 1, but judging from the way he talks about the team, it’s safe to say there’s a good chance he’ll be re-signing when a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. Williams loves the situation in New York and openly admits that he wants to return.
“I’m not going to lie, I really didn’t understand how big New York was until I played there,” Williams told HOOPSWORLD. “Even in my hometown, I can’t walk around anywhere anymore. The Knicks are like America’s team, just like the Cowboys. I love the Knicks’ fans. They’re the greatest fans in America. They support the team so much and I’m on Twitter interacting with all of the fans. I just love it. I can’t wait to be back.”
After last season’s first-round exit, Williams is confident that the Knicks will advance deeper into the postseason this time around. After being swept by the Boston Celtics last year, he believes the team will come back with a vengeance and doesn’t see another early exit in their future.
“I feel like we already know we’re going to make the playoffs,” Williams said. “I’m not being cocky or nothing. It’s just … We’re going to get past the first round. Everybody has a chip on their shoulders because we got swept. I feel like there was no reason or excuse for us not to have won one game. We had three tough-break losses within [the last] ten seconds. That’s stayed on my mind every day of the summer. I can’t wait to get back into the same situation again and try to prevail.”
What a difference one year can make. Last summer, Williams was out of the NBA and playing in the Orlando Summer League to display his game for potential suitors. He received an invite to New York’s training camp, turned that into a roster spot and secured a spot in the rotation. Now, he’ll likely enter this season as a role player, who is basically guaranteed minutes to provide a pop off of the bench. However, rather than entering this season comfortable and free of inhibition, Williams feels more pressure than ever to produce.
“First and foremost, I want to thank God for that opportunity,” Williams said. “A year and a half back, I didn’t have any vision. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I prevailed through a lot, got in shape and then got an opportunity. Mike D’Antoni, Happy Walters and Donnie Walsh got me an opportunity. Hey, it worked out in the best interest for me, I guess.”
“I’m not going to lie, there’s more pressure this year than any other year, even though there’s a lockout. Even with all of the confusion and things to keep my mind off of basketball, I feel like the pressure is on. A lot of people know I can shoot, but now it’s about doing the extra stuff: making the extra move, getting to the rack, being a great passer and just being a good teammate,” he added.
Doing the extra stuff includes keeping his weight down. In the past, that has been a problem for Williams, but he’s in shape and working hard to stay that way.
“It’s been easy,” Williams said. “It’s still hard training, I just got in today and I’m working hard. But I never want to get back to 265 or 270 lbs. That’s not an NBA player’s weight. That’s more like a linebacker or tackle’s weight. I’ve just been trying to eat good and talking to a [Amar’e] Stoudemire and a lot of the veterans on the Knicks to stay focused.”
It also means taking on the role of defensive stopper if he’s asked to step up on that end of the court. With Mike Woodson now on D’Antoni’s staff, the Knicks will have a defensive mind in the huddle and Williams is ready for that challenge.
“I’ve always liked being a defensive stopper,” Williams said. “The one thing I’ve always known, if you like to play defense then you’ll always find a little bit of time on the court. I took pride in guarding anybody I could guard, even Dwight [Howard]. I just wanted to give Stoudemire a little bit of a break when I could. I just wanted to give Carmelo a break when I could. I just wanted to be a good teammate. Anytime they needed help, I was there to guard their man or do whatever, and I know they have my back too.”
He’ll have a chance to bond with some of his teammates in Las Vegas, where he’ll compete in Impact Basketball’s competitive training series. Williams will join Chauncey Billups, Iman Shumpert, Jared Jeffries, Roger Mason and Josh Harrellson on a roster, and he’s looking forward to playing with his fellow Knicks.
“That’s going to be big because I’m hearing there’s like 80 guys out there,” Williams said. “I know there’s 70 NBA guys, which is most of the NBA, so I feel like there’s going to be great runs. I’m ready to get with some of my teammates, even the new draft pick Iman. I want to see him play. I’ll be able to get acquainted with my co-workers.”
There’s little doubt that those same players will still be his co-workers when the season begins. Williams is interested in New York and vice versa so there’s a good chance he’ll be re-signing when the work stoppage ends. The Knicks offered him a second chance when no other team would, which means a lot to Williams. Now, he’s continuing to work hard and taking advantage of the opportunity he was given.
Suns Organize Minicamp: Add the Phoenix Suns to the list of teams that have held offseason workouts this summer. Steve Nash organized a minicamp for his teammates in San Diego recently, and many players showed up to work on their conditioning and play in some pickup games.
Nash called his teammates and invited each of them to the workout. Jared Dudley, Aaron Brooks, Josh Childress and Channing Frye were among the players in attendance, based on their tweets.
Brooks was particularly excited to meet up with his teammates, as he had been hoping to develop more chemistry with the group after joining the team in February.
“All signs point to me going back to Phoenix,” Brooks told HOOPSWORLD last month. “I had a good time. I like the organization and it’s a great city. I would love to continue playing in Phoenix. I would love to stay with this team. This summer, I’m going to get more comfortable with the guys. I want to get to know everyone a little bit better and then hopefully we have a better season than we did last year.”
Dudley, Frye and Warrick will all compete in Impact Basketball’s competitive training series, according to league’s the press release.
Tuesday’s Bargaining Session: The NBA’s players and owners will meet on Tuesday to continue negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. After meeting on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, it seemed that the two sides were making progress toward a new deal.
The next step will be putting a new proposal on the table. According to sources close to the situation, that could happen as early as Tuesday, when the National Basketball Players Association is expecting to receive a new proposal from the owners.
Assuming a new proposal is offered on Tuesday, the NBPA’s executive committee will review the proposed deal and travel to Las Vegas on Thursday to present the details to the large group of players participating in Impact Basketball’s competitive training series. On the same day, the owners will be meeting in Dallas for the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting.
At this point, everything is still up in the air. The owners could decide not to present a new proposal or offer a deal that isn’t appealing to the players. If that’s the case, the talks will likely continue to stall.
However, if a new, more favorable proposal is on the table, that could be the key to having the season start on time.
While all of the meetings up until this point have involved more bickering than negotiating, Tuesday’s session is extremely important. There’s no question that we’ll have a better idea of where things stand in three days. By then, it should be clear whether talks are heading in the right or wrong direction.
HOOPSWORLD Chats: There is only one chat on today’s schedule. Susan Bible’s weekly chat will get underway at 11 p.m. ET. Make sure to submit your questions early because this chat fills up fast. To view HOOPSWORLD”s upcoming chat schedule, click here.