Things could change. The Cavaliers could make a trade or sign someone else or he could flame out. But two games in, Derrick Williams appears to be on track to sticking around in Cleveland.
"We hope that this is a long-term thing," LeBron James said when asked about Williams after the Cavs' win on Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. "Obviously, we know that he's on a 10-day contract, but we believe it's going to be long-term."
Through two games, coach Tyronn Lue has utilized Williams willingly. He’s averaging 21 minutes a game off the bench while averaging 9.5 points and shooting 83.3 percent from the field. He’s also playing minutes at the three or four spots that might otherwise have to be played by LeBron or Richard Jefferson.
Lue is also using Williams as a way to experiment with different looks. For example, against the Nuggets, Williams was part of a lineup featured players all 6’7” or taller. In that lineup, Williams brought up the ball a few times in an effort to catch Denver’s defense off guard.
“That was definitely different, having me at the one and dribbling the ball up,” Williams said. “I’m happy that coach is using me in different ways and not just sticking me in a corner. I try to be all over the court and make mismatches each and every time on the court. And with that lineup, it’s hard to stop.”
Yes, this is Williams’ fifth team in his six-year NBA career. And yes, he fell out of the Heat’s rotation before being cut. But the Cavaliers, from LeBron on down, seem to believe in him.
"He's been in some difficult situations, first of all, and we hope that this is a place that can help him grow and make that next step," James said. "He's 25 years old. It doesn't seem like it because we've been hearing me for so long. But he's 25. He hasn't even gotten to his potential, to his prime yet, so hopefully this group, this locker room, myself, my leadership [helps him]. Just want to see him grow every day, and it's a good place for him."
Williams, for his part, seems happy to be here. For him, both the organization and the crowd at the Q - which he brought to its feet with a second quarter dunk - have been positive experiences.
"Atmosphere was great, man," Williams said. "I hadn't experienced anything like that since I've been in the NBA. Just taking it all in. Just trying to help this team win. That's what I'm here for. Just play with energy, play with effort, play with efficiency and try to get a win. That's why I'm here."