Well, pen hasn’t been put to paper yet. But Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders talked via phone with forward Derrick Williams today, informing him of the team’s intent to pick up his option for next season. It should be official by the end of the week. Saunders, who is on the road, will be back in town and the two will meet face-to-face Friday to seal the deal.
“It helps, (having) the security,” said Williams, whose option for the 2014-15 season will bring him close to $6.7 million. “You’re guaranteed at least one more year in the NBA. As long as you have that, I think everything is good.”
For Williams, security is a pretty big deal. It seems one rumor after another has had him out of town basically from the time he was picked second overall in the 2011 draft. Not that this will change things that much. Saunders has said from the beginning it doesn’t make sense to let assets walk away from the organization. So the team was going to pick up this option on Williams pretty much no matter what. Williams has the security of knowing his contract is guaranteed, but he doesn’t know for sure where that job will take him. Still, that guarantee is important.
Williams, entering his second season, has yet to establish himself as a starter with the Wolves. Indeed, he was challenged by the Wolves during camp, a challenge coach Rick Adelman said Williams has accepted. “I think he’s played very hard,” Adelman said. “He rebounded the ball very well the other night. It’s a process for him. It’s hard, because he has had to play two spots. He has to jump back and forth.’’
Williams has bounced between power forward and small forward. Adelman started Williams at the small forward spot in Minnesota’s preseason victory over Boston in Montreal Sunday. For Williams, the biggest challenge at the small forward position is on defense. “At that spot you’re playing a totally different player than you are at the four spot,” Adelman said.
That said, Williams – who dropped 20 pounds during the offseason trying to add more quickness, appears to be a player eager to take the next step.
“I was 20 years old when I got into the NBA and now I’m 22,” Williams said. “And I’m still growing and I’m still learning. I’ve always heard that, as you get older, you’re going to figure things out. And that’s what I’ve been doing.’’
Williams, who worked with the second unit through most of training camp, said he was a little surprised to get the start Sunday. But he said he hopes to have more going forward. “Being in the starting lineup? I think I deserve to be. That’s why they drafted me here. They didn’t draft me to come off the bench, things like that. Ultimately, it’s up to coach. I’m just here to play basketball.”
Adelman said he plans on using different starting lineups over the next two preseason games, starting Wednesday night in Philadelphia, in order to help figure out his rotations. In a perfect world, Adelman said he’d like to bring Corey Brewer off the bench rather than start him at small forward because of the energy he can bring to the game in a reserve role.
Meanwhile, the team also has until the start of the regular season to pick up Ricky Rubio’s $5 million option for next season and will do so; the decision on Rubio’s contract is nothing but a formality.
Here are some other tidbits from today’s practice:
--Adelman praised the improved consistency his starters showed Sunday, especially in the second half of the victory over Boston. “They came out and they were much more intense in that second half than they were earlier,” Adelman said.
--Adelman was asked how hard it is to be the coach of a team that travels as much or more than any other team in the league. Specifically, he was asked if he ever tried to address it with the league. “We asked the league to change it,” he deadpanned. “And they sent us to Mexico. So, don’t ask again.”
That’s about it for now. Jerry will pick up the team in Philly.