For Williams, 2nd chance at 1st impression
February, 21, 2013
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
LOS ANGELES -- Terrence Williams spent two weeks with the Celtics this summer working out in hopes of landing a roster spot before training camp. He was admittedly a bit crestfallen when nothing materialized from that tryout and suggested he "shed a tear" because he had dreamed of playing for a team with a storied history.
It took about seven months and an eye-opening stint in China, but 25-year-old Williams got his opportunity Wednesday when the injury-depleted Celtics formally announced his signing to a 10-day contract.
"It’s an honor to even be able to wear the color, and be a part of the organization," Williams said before Wednesday's 113-99 loss to the rival Lakers. "Especially with the history. I’m still in shock, but I need to get out of shock and relatively fast, because we have a game coming up."
Aided by the Lakers' lopsided lead, Williams got nearly 13 minutes of second-half floor time and responded by posting two points, two rebounds and two assists in a solid debut that left coach Doc Rivers raving about his diverse skill set.
"I thought he ran our offense that we didn’t have better than anyone else tonight," quipped Rivers. "He was good. You can see some of the [talents], he’s a great ball-mover. I thought he was real tentative at times, coming off the picks. But again, we talked about it before the game, you have [veteran players] on the floor, you kinda just want to fit in.
"Where I was really happy with him is I thought he defended. I thought he showed a little bit of fight, and that’s the first thing I told him. He’s got a reputation for being athletic, but he should be a great defender, and I told him, I want to see that. And I thought he did that."
Before arriving in Boston, Williams played for three teams (Brooklyn, Houston, Sacramento) over three NBA seasons before being cut out of training camp by Detroit this past fall. He landed with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association before returning stateside for this opportunity -- one that was delayed briefly while he waited for his clearance paperwork.
When a foreign reporter asked Williams if he was keeping track of the CBA playoffs he had left behind, the young swingman was brutally honest.
"No, I don’t care about the CBA," Williams said. "I’ll just be honest. I don’t know if [the Tigers] are winning, I don’t know if [the playoffs] started, I don’t know who they are playing. That’s just being honest. Good luck, I wish them luck, of course."
Williams, a former lottery pick (11th overall by Brooklyn in 2009), is trying to create a little good luck for himself, hoping his diverse talents will encourage Boston to keep him beyond a 10-day deal.
There were encouraging glimpses on Wednesday. Maybe none more than when Kobe Bryant isolated himself against Williams in the second half, but couldn't shake him and missed his shot near the rim.
Williams said he's grown from being an immature player.
"I think that’s what made everything go downhill -- not being a professional," said Williams. "I was young, 20-whatever, money, and not really caring -- I cared about playing basketball, but I didn’t care about putting the work into basketball. Now, if you go to China even for a day, you learn how to be a professional. You want to come back so fast."
It's been a whirlwind week for Williams, but he surprised even himself during Wednesday's game against the Lakers.
"I felt better than I thought. I thought I was going to be tired, but I really wasn’t," he said. "It was good. It definitely felt weird, being my first time back in the States, I’m playing against a rival -- that part was hard. When you’re playing with good guys, it’s easy to make a good pass or a simple pass and they turn it into an assist. I thought that was good."