Williams was ‘chilling’ when he got the call
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.