The Los Angeles Lakers have found a stretch forward.
General manager Mitch Kupchak announced that the team has signed free agent Shawne Williams, per NBA.com. According to ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin, his contract will be for one year at the veteran's minimum.
Williams has bounced around the NBA since being drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 2006. Most recently, he spent part of the lockout-truncated 2011-12 campaign with the then-New Jersey Nets before being shipped to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of the Gerald Wallace trade.
After being bought out by the Blazers, Williams spent last season out of the NBA. Los Angeles will (presumably) be the fifth team he's actually played for.
Williams previously played under Mike D'Antoni with the New York Knicks, where he had the best statistical season of his career. During the 2010-11 season he notched career highs in minutes (20.7), points (7.1), rebounds (3.7) and three-point shooting (40.1 percent), emerging as an ideal stretch 4 in D'Antoni's offense-heavy system.
Rookie Ryan Kelly was the only floor-spacing forward on Los Angeles' roster until now. Knowing how much D'Antoni-coached teams tend to rely on spreading defenses and shooting threes, the Lakers needed another body that could man the power forward slot.
McMenamin also says that Kelly isn't recovering well from the multiple foot procedures he's had this summer and isn't expected to be ready for the start of training camp, further limiting Los Angeles' preferred offensive dynamic.
Signing Williams plugs a hole the Lakers always had while also ensuring they're not forced to count on an inexperienced Kelly or Jordan Hill morphing into a long-range assassin. Williams' past success under D'Antoni, coupled with his ability to effectively defend the 4, all but guarantees he'll see adequate playing time in the beginning.
If he can show early on that he can be the deep-ball shooting power forward the Lakers lack but clearly need, he figures to become a rotation staple just like he did in New York.
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