What should the New York Knicks do with über-athletic forward Derrick Williams?

New York Knicks forward Derrick Williams passed on his player option for the 2016-17 season as expected, choosing to test the market instead, league sources told The Vertical.

Williams, 25, opted out of a potential $4.6 million contract to hit free agency. The Knicks are reportedly mulling a new deal, sources said.

In consequence, the organization will have $30+ million in cap space to work with. If they choose to ink Williams to a contract extension, the cap space will adjust accordingly.

An über-athletic forward, Williams averaged 9.3 points per-game — his career average — with his second-chance team. Williams was originally selected second overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson recently hired Jeff Hornacek to coach the Big Apple squad. His style of teaching would seemingly bode well for Williams, Maxwell Ogden of Daily Knicks speculated.


Up-Tempo Offense: An offense that caters to Williams’ strengths would have a profound impact on his play. There’s no reason Williams wouldn’t thrive in an up-tempo offense, especially considering his explosiveness and 7’2″ wingspan. Last season, New York refused to push the pace, ranking twenty-fourth in that regard. When given the freedom to get out in transition, he thrived.

Pick & Roll Offense: Williams has the size, length and frame to set hard screens at the top of the key. He’s also an explosive athlete fully capable of playing above the rim. Additionally, if Hornacek can tap into his upside as a shooter, he can run the P&R through him.

Motion Offense: Williams isn’t very effective in stationary, which is why shifting to a motion-based offense could serve him good. He’s more skilled than most players his size, and has a natural feel for the base line and the offensive glass.

Still, there are many who don’t believe Williams should be given an extension.


Drastic Improvements: At this stage of his career, Williams has little upside. He’s a poor shooter and even worse defensively. Coaches don’t just turn players into significantly better shooters. He’s only a marginal screen setter, as well.

Money Demands: How much is Williams worth to the Knicks in both the short and long-term? While it’s tough to know for certain, it seems likely that he would demand north of five million dollars (and members of the media have speculated that he’d look for a multi-year deal worth nearly six per). That may be too much for a cap-constrained team (even though that contract wouldn’t be overblown at all).

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.