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Being Shelden Williams

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Continuing in my series of wasting dedicating a lot of time and space to potential fringe players, I proudly present my Shelden Williams novella.

Prior to the arrival of Donte’ Greene, Shelden Williams had the most frequently misspelled name on the Kings’ roster. It’s Shelden, with two “e’s.” That’s OK. To err is human, three err is Eugenio Velez. But I digress.

Shelden Williams was selected with the number five pick of the 2006 draft by the Atlanta Hawks.  The Hawks have been lambasted for this pick, as they chose Williams ahead of guys like Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay. But the Hawks needed help at the four, and Williams had the same Duke pedigree bestowed upon Carlos Boozer and Elton Brand. Truth be told, the Kings would have had a tough time passing on Shelden Williams had they held the fifth pick that year.

Williams averaged about five and half points and rebounds and a half block in his rookie year, playing 81 games and about 18 minutes per. The Hawks changed management, and the new regime thought so little of Williams that they passed on the opportunity to draft Mike Conley in spite of having no real point guard on the roster at the time, choosing instead to draft Al Horford with the number three pick. The Hawks came back and chose Acie Law IV with the eleventh pick. Had Williams been able to establish himself with Hawks management, Atlanta could have chosen Conley and come back later and grabbed Thaddeus Young, Julian Wright or Al Thornton with the eleventh pick. Instead, Williams was part of the salary dump package that the Kings received in exchange for Mike Bibby.

Williams didn’t get major burn in either outpost last year, averaging under 12 minutes in 36 games for the Hawks, and under 13 minutes in 28 games for the Kings. For what it’s worth, Williams averaged four pts. and three rebs. for the season. Reggie Theus noted that Williams really wasn’t in game shape when he arrived here, but blamed most of that on the fact that Williams was not getting regular minutes in Atlanta. Ty Corbin might argue that theory, as the man made a career of being ready whenever called upon, but I suppose that’s what made Ty Corbin Ty Corbin.

Williams also carries a couple of other loads on his shoulders. First, he is engaged to Candace Parker. Now this is not a bad thing, unless you ask Chad Lowe what it was like to be Mrs. Hilary Swank. Reggie Miller had to deal with this early in his career as the brother of Cheryl Miller, but if you drill enough 3’s while Spike Lee is yapping in your ear, people have a tendency to cease and desist. Second, his name is Shelden. As Billy Crystal said in “When Harry Met Sally,” “If you need a root canal, Sheldon’s your man…but humpin’ and pumpin’ is not Sheldon’s strong suit.” If ever an NBA player needed to change his name, it’s Shelden. Tariq, Mustafa, Ocho Cinco, anything other than Nene would be an improvement. Again, I digress.

Shelden Williams is now entering his third season and is attempting to carve out a niche’ for himself in the NBA. On the surface, he would be a decent fit for the Kings. A banger on a team lacking bangers, a guy who seems to want to rebound on a team with no real rebounders. There should be a place for Shelden Wiliams and his NBA-sized buttocks on the Kings roster, as he is the one and only guy on this team that can eat space in the middle on the defensive end. And he will wear a Kings jersey this year, earning $3.4 million along the way.

The question is will the Kings extend him? They have exercised their option for next year on Spencer Hawes, but have yet to extend Williams or Quincy Douby. Williams would earn $4.3 million next year, which is right there with fellow bangers Ronny Turiaf ($4.1M), Reggie Evans ($5.0M) and Darius Songaila($4.5M). The Kings would have a lot of work in front of them to clear real cap space for next year. It would have to include dealing Brad Miller at the trade deadline for expiring or a draft day deal to a team with cap room. Figuring that K9(woof!) is untradeable, without a Miller trade the Kings could only get about $7-8 million under the cap if they bought out Moore and did not extend Williams and Douby. That is hardly enough room to do anything significant. So whether or not you extend Shelden Williams, it will little impact on what the Kings may ultimately do next year from a salary cap standpoint.

So, if you don’t extend Williams, would he fetch more than $4.3 million on the open market? Probably not. And given Candace’s ties to the states, he is probably less likely than most to take an overseas gig. But if you do pick up his option, you are not signing him to a 2-3 year deal, you’re merely committing one more year to him. And the Kings can use his talents. So the real question then becomes, will the Kings use him? Can Shareef Abdur-Rahim help him develop enough of an offensive game that he would not be a liability on the offensive end? Kid needs to become proficient at 15 feet, because he gets stuffed a lot underneath. Corliss Williamson developed a host of low post moves to help combat this over his career. Can Shelden Williams do the same?

I think that it is safe to say that most Kings fans would love to see Williams earn an extension. The idea of watching Hawes/Williams/Thompson all develop and become a talented and versatile front line for the Kings for years to come? Throw in Donte’ Greene if you’re feeling greedy, and think about Hawes at C/PF, Williams at C/PF, Thompson at PF/SF, and Greene at SF, depending on matchups (this is not a call to trade Brad Miller right now – this is just a look at life after Brad). The mind races with possibilities.

I say extend Shelden Williams if you intend on using him, and intend on using him if you extend him.