You might have missed it last week, but a 12-year active NBA veteran point guard — with a championship ring and who three times finished in the League’s top 10 in assists for a season — became available. Playing one of the game’s most coveted positions, you would think some contending team would be interested. And yet Jason Williams is still waiting for work.
J-Will, a.k.a White Chocolate, was cut by the Magic last week. After clearing waivers, he is now an unrestricted free agent, but it seems the only team looking to bring him on is the Memphis Grizzlies. And apparently that’s not good enough for him. Yet. From the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:
Memphis (24-24) wanted to claim Williams off waivers and assume the one-year contract he signed with Orlando before the start of this season. But Williams asked the Grizzlies to not claim him, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Memphis obliged, and Williams apparently will consider suitors with stronger postseason possibilities before agreeing to terms with the Grizzlies.
Memphis is willing to sign Williams for the remainder of the season.
Griz general manager Chris Wallace declined to elaborate on the situation. He would only acknowledge that the Griz contacted Williams’ agent. The Griz are looking to sign the 35-year-old point guard at the behest of team owner Michael Heisley, who is a fan of Williams’ ability.
Heisley is said to have the same infatuation with Williams as he did with Allen Iverson last season. The only difference is that a decision on Williams is expected to happen within a week or two, while the Iverson saga lasted a few months.
J-Will has a good history with the Grizzlies. In ’04 and ’05 he was their starting point guard on two playoff teams, averaging 17.0 points and 5.3 assists in the ’05 postseason. He was traded to Miami right after that, however, where he won a championship with the ’06 Heat.
Williams fell out of Orlando’s rotation after Gilbert Arenas arrived on Dec. 18, making just one appearance — a five-minute cameo against Toronto — between Arenas’ debut and when he was cut.
Of course Williams has a right to choose where he wants to play, and if that particular team doesn’t come calling, he doesn’t have to play at all. But if he still wants to play and only one team wants him, he may have to suck it up and start learning where Zach Randolph likes his entry passes. At least it will give him a chance to prove himself if he wants to play again after this season.
Would you want J-Will on your team?