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Kings place Derrick Williams on display

Derrick Williams gets some playing time, but is there an alterior motive?


Savvy shoppers know stores tend to place their clearance items in a space for everyone to see. If recent games are an indication, the Sacramento Kings are doing the same with Derrick Williams.

In the first 11 games of the season, Williams recorded three DNP’s and averaged 5.5 minutes of action in the other eight. Since November 20, a span of five contests, the former second overall pick has played 19.2 minutes per contest, scoring 7.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

Since arriving in Sacramento last November, Williams has earned a reputation in the Kings organization for being a good teammate. At first glance, it seems his dedication behind the scenes is finally paying off, but history and circumstances hint to something more sinister.

Around a year to this day, Kings forward Luc Mbah a Moute traveled a similar fate. The lockdown defender logged a total of 26 minutes in Sacramento’s first seven games, before averaging 28.3 minutes per game over his next five.

On November 26, Mbah a Moute was shopped and dealt straight up for Mr. Williams.

At the time of the trade, Mbah a Moute had two years left on an overpriced deal he signed in 2011. Today, the 23-year-old Williams is making $6.3 million in the last year of his rookie-scale contract. Williams’ qualifying offer this summer is roughly $8.3 million and his cap hold is nearly $12.7 million, which would hinder Sacramento’s roster flexibility if they chose to keep him around.

There’s no chance of that happening in our present reality.

It’s no secret that Williams’ time is coming to an end in Sacramento. He is regarded around the league as a reclamation project at best, and at worst, a bust. The Kings can sell him to other clubs as an expiring deal, or let him walk when free agency begins.

The Kings want to squeeze the most out of their asset while they can. Middling and bottom-tier clubs would love to trade for Williams’ contract to shed long-term salaries, but what Sacramento is currently doing is reminding NBA scouts and general managers that the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder retains his tantalizing potential. He is a hyper-athletic combo forward who’s still developing a go-to move. His assertiveness is another issue, but in the right situation, his career may be salvageable.

Second-year Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro has a few chips to play with. In addition to Williams, Sacramento is in possession of a $5.85 million trade exception from the Jason Terry trade. D’Alessandro has young, controllable prospects in Ben McLemore, Nik Stauskas and Ray McCallum, as well as veterans Reggie Evans at $1.8 million and Ramon Sessions, whose 2-year, $4 million contract will be eligible to be flipped on December 22.

By getting the most value out of Williams, D’Alessandro will add to his bargaining power to help make a potential blockbuster deal by the trade deadline. And while Williams’ less-than-stellar performances may not be what Michael Malone and the team wants in the short-run, the oldest trick in retail should eventually lead to a deeper stocked roster.

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