- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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Shelden Williams is Mr. Intangibles: He plays defense, he plays physical and he’s a great veteran presence in the locker room.
The Nets loved all those qualities, which is why they officially signed the 28-year-old power forward on Tuesday. Sources told ESPN NewYork.com it’s a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum.
“I had a couple teams expressing interest and New Jersey’s the first team that committed to me first, and it kind of went from there,” Williams said.
“I felt like it was an opportunity for me to actually go out there and play. So they just invited me to get an opportunity and the rest kind of went from there.”
Williams envisions himself as someone who can fill that hard-working, blue-collar role.
“Shelden is an experienced player,” coach Avery Johnson said. “He’s come in in pretty good shape, and he ran the floor pretty well and picked up our offensive and defensive systems pretty good. He’s been around the block a few times, and he knows what he’s doing.”
The Nets will be Williams’ seventh NBA team in six seasons. He’s also been with Atlanta, Sacramento, Minnesota, Boston, Denver and New York. He played 17 games and made six starts with the Knicks after being acquired in the Carmelo Anthony deal.
In 303 career games, Williams holds averages of 4.5 points and 4.0 rebounds.
“I’m not sure,” Williams replied when asked why he’s changed teams so often.
“Especially the last three teams, I’ve been caught up in contractual situations where -- I got a chance to play in Boston but Baby [Glen Davis] came back and they played him so I had to sit. Then in Denver, I was starting pretty much the first two months and then Kenyon [Martin] came back and then I got traded in the Melo trade. So it’s kind of like once I hit it off I get caught up in the business side.”
Williams said those situations get old fast.
“Especially when those opportunities are given to you and I was playing well and then it’s out of my hands, I can’t do anything else about it. So I can only control the things I can control,” he said.
So does he have a chip on his shoulder?
“Yeah, I’ve proven that given the opportunity I play well. I do things that teams need me to do. I just need the opportunity to be consistent with it,” he replied.
Williams was in Russia during the lockout with his wife, WNBA superstar Candace Parker, while she was playing there. He was a four-year standout at Duke, where he became the third player in NCAA history to record 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 350 blocks and 150 steals before being selected fifth overall by the Hawks in the first round of the 2006 NBA draft. He earned the nickname “Landlord” for his ability to own the paint.
Nets GM Billy King is also a Duke product, but Williams said the two don’t really know each other that well other than a hello or two at games.
He feels his “dirty work” game will compliment 23-year-old center Brook Lopez’s, since Lopez is a finesse big man who is competent from the perimeter.
“I mean, that’s been my job since I’ve been playing basketball. Be physical, rebound, play defense do all the little stuff,” Williams said. “It’s stuff that doesn’t get a lot of positive feedback, but it’s just the job I do.”