Derrick Williams embraces new life with Sacramento Kings

Updated at 7:09 pm PT

Derrick Williams meets with media following his first practice with the Sacramento Kings. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

“Lounging around”.

That’s what Derrick Williams was doing this Wednesday morning in his new surroundings. After being dealt to the Sacramento Kings a day before, Williams wasn’t sure if he’d be clear to practice, so “lounging around” the team’s practice facility in Natomas was pretty much all he could do.

His moment of peace following a whirlwind 48 hours didn’t last long, however. Approximately 30 minutes before the Kings tipped off practice this morning, they got the call from the league office. Williams was cleared to go and step on the court into his new life as a King.

“I was really excited because I didn’t expect him to be in practice today,” Williams’ new coach Michael Malone said Wednesday. “But I guess everything got through with the league, so last minute we were told he could practice.”

How did he look?

“For his first practice, he did great,” Malone added. “This is brand new teammates, brand new coaching staff, brand new terminology, philosophy, so a lot of new things coming at him. But in light of all that, he did terrific and we’re excited to have him.”

By all accounts, Williams lived up to his reputation in his first practice in Sacramento. Known as an athletic forward, capable of scoring in a variety of ways, Williams was a delightful addition for teammates and coaches to have on Wednesday.

“It’s just refreshing to see another guy that is an athlete,” Malone said of Williams. “Another guy that can make plays at the rim, that can explode around the basket. He’s so explosive. He’s a 22-year-old athlete and you look at him and Ben (McLemore) on the wings at times, that’s exciting to me.”

Williams arrives in Sacramento with a chip on his shoulder. The 22-year-old forward played inconsistently in two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, unable to find a place in coach Rick Adelman’s rotation.

A power forward in college, the Wolves tried developing Williams at small forward, but that netted little results. Despite Williams’ diminished returns at the three in Minnesota, Malone and Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro see him working as a mismatch wing in Sacramento.

Even though the experiment at small forward failed in Minnesota, Williams thinks that things will be different with his new team.

“In Minnesota, it was a big point guard and (power forward) game,” Williams said of his old his team. “A lot of two-man game (between Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love). You know, Ricky has the ball a lot of the game. It’s kind of like the Clippers (where) Chris Paul has the ball a lot of the game and he’s trying to make plays for other guys.

“Coach wants me to get out there and make plays for other guys as well,” Williams added, transitioning into why playing small forward for the Kings might result in a different outcome than his time in Minneapolis. “He told me if I get the rebound, he wants me to push it up the court, start the fast break and look up and get it going.”

Williams is expected to be thrown to the wolves (no pun intended) immediately with the Kings. As he has been this season, Malone remained guarded when asked about his starting lineup against the Los Angeles Clippers. But the Kings head coach is prepared to let Williams loose in their next game that takes place Friday night.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do in terms of starting at the small forward spot,” Malone said. “But for me, put it out there, there’s no need to wait to work Derrick in. He’s here, we went out and got him for a reason. Let’s throw him out there and see what he can do and give him time to adjust, knowing that there’s no pressure, no expectations. Go out there, play hard, defend and he’ll be fine.”

The Kings new forward is eager to get things going despite the quick transition and minimal preparation for the Clippers. For a player that’s seen little time on the court his first two seasons, the idea of seeing extended minutes is an exciting and uplifting prospect.

“First time I’ve heard that in a long time,” the 22-year-old forward said of Malone’s intentions to play him early and often. “Coach wants me to come in and play my game. That just right there gives me a lot of confidence. He has a lot of faith in me. It’s only been one practice and he’s telling me that.

“I think he knows how good I am and how good I can be,” Williams added. “I have the potential to be a good player and I think a lot of people know that. It’s just about me putting it together.”

Ray McCallum recalled from Reno Bighorns

The Kings announced that the rookie guard was called up from the D-League today.  In his three-game stint with Reno, McCallum averaged a team-high 22 points, five rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.33 steals in a team-leading 38 minutes per games.  McCallum participated in practice when the Kings worked out in Sacramento today.


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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