Williams started at power forward and contributed 10 points (4-8 FG, 2-5 3Pt), six rebounds, two blocks and one assist across 24 minutes in Tuesday's 121-100 preseason win over the Nets.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has given starts at power forward to three different players (Williams, Luke Babbitt and James Johnson) in three games, but Williams looks like the top candidate to land those duties during the regular season, given the more diverse inside-out offensive game that he offers. With Chris Bosh (blood clots) unlikely to play for the Heat again, Williams could have some staying power in the starting five, although the presences of Babbitt and Johnson will likely prevent him from consistently seeing 30-plus minutes per game.
Williams generated 14 points (5-10 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 2-3 FT), six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block across 27 minutes in Saturday's 109-100 preseason loss to the Timberwolves.
Williams played like he had something to prove against one of his former teams, finishing third on the Heat in scoring while filling up the stat sheet in every category. He's the frontrunner to open the season as the Heat's starting power forward with Chris Bosh (blood clots) likely having played his last game with the team and Josh McRoberts still recovering from a foot injury.
Williams came into Tuesday as the expected starter at power forward, but it appears the
Williams will head down the South Beach after spending the past season with the Knicks, where he averaged 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.1 blocks in 18 minutes per game through 80 games. The former second-overall pick could see an expanded role in Miami, especially if Chris Bosh (calf) is not ready in time for the beginning of the season. In any case, look for Williams to compete with Josh McRoberts for minutes at power forward.
Williams will opt out of his $4.59 million contract for the 2016-17 season and become an unrestricted free agent, Ian Begley of ESPN.com reports.
Williams was a candidate to serve as the Knicks' starting power forward entering last season, but the emergence of rookie Kristaps Porzingis resulted in the veteran settling for a backup role. He provided a strong scoring punch off the bench with 9.3 points in 17.9 minutes per game, but Williams' low rebound rate and lack of efficiency from the field made his overall contributions rather hollow. Still, Williams' ability to put up points and his pedigree as a former No. 2 overall pick should prompt some team to sign him this offseason as a rotational big man.
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