Wil­liams was ‘chill­ing’ when he got the call

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Can­dace Buck­ner

WASH­ING­TON — Johnathan Wil­liams III sud­denly had time on his hands. On Jan. 4, he made his fifth con­sec­u­tive start with the Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards and af­ter the game, Wil­liams went to see Gen­eral Man­ager Tommy Sheppard. The Wiz­ards liked him — the way he re­bounded and hus­tled af­ter join­ing the team Dec. 26 on a hard­ship ex­cep­tion — but they had to cut him when that con­tract ex­pired.

Wil­liams, 24, packed up his things and headed to a fam­ily mem­ber’s house in Fair­fax, Vir­ginia. He was an un­em­ployed pro bas­ket­ball player, yes, but one with op­tions. He wasn’t de­jected about the tem­po­rary sta­tus. Wil­liams in­stead kept busy do­ing noth­ing.

“Just hang­ing out, just wait­ing … [at] my aunt Peggy’s,” Wil­liams said Sun­day. “I was just chill­ing. Chill­ing, just on the phone, talk­ing to fam­ily, go get a hair­cut. I like to cook so I baked some cook­ies. Just chill­ing.”

Be­sides his mo­tor on the hard­wood, Wil­liams’ pa­tience off it might be one of his bet­ter qual­i­ties as a pro.

On Sun­day, Wil­liams left Aunt Peggy’s house when Wash­ing­ton brought him back on a two-way con­tract. With the one-year deal for the rest of this sea­son, Wil­liams will split time with the team’s G League af­fil­i­ate, the Cap­i­tal City Go-Go, as well as log min­utes with the Wiz­ards when needed.

Af­ter be­ing waived, Wil­liams be­lieved a re­turn to the Wiz­ards was pos­si­ble, but he was given no as­sur­ances. Still, Wil­liams didn’t stress. He learned to adapt ear­lier in the year when he signed to play with Mac­cabi Ris­hon Lezion in Is­rael, fol­low­ing a year in the Los An­ge­les Lakers’ fran­chise that didn’t work out as he had ex­pected.

While on a Eu­roCup team, the sec­ond di­vi­sion be­neath Eu­roLeague, Wil­liams helped Ris­hon stay com­pet­i­tive by av­er­ag­ing 11.8 points and 9.1 re­bounds.

Now back in the NBA, Wil­liams, who will be a re­stricted free agent this sum­mer, wants to prove he can play with high en­ergy on a con­sis­tent ba­sis.

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