Back that up: Marcus Williams signed

RealGM is reporting that the Grizzlies have signed point guard Marcus Williams to a one year, $855 thousand contract. Along with great play on the parts of Sam Young and DeMarre Carroll, Williams led the Grizzlies' summer league squad to 5-0, dishing a league record 17 assists in his first game.

And while this isn't exactly a blockbuster acquisition for the Grizzlies, I've got a few initial reactions after the jump.

The word on Marcus Williams is, honestly, mixed around the NBA front office community. Williams was the starting point guard on an excellent UConn team that also featured Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong, and Josh Boone. He was an excellent guard, shooting lights out from the floor and free throw line while also facilitating his talented teammates, but struggled to stay on the court due to character issues.

The New Jersey Nets drafted him at #22 in 2006, and he backed up Jason Kidd pretty well, even making the All-Rookie team during his first All-Star weekend. Williams was then traded to the Golden State Warriors, but was quickly in Don Nelson's doghouse and sent to the D-League. Many expected Williams to flourish in the Warriors up-tempo system because he is considered a talented player and pure point guard.

Marcus Williams problems have never surrounded his talents, however, but his decision making on and off the court. So why did the Grizzlies give him another chance? Well, to be honest, Summer League and cost.

Here's what I wrote about the Marcus William's rather inconsistent performances during the Summer League:

  • Perhaps most impressive, however, was Marcus Williams, another former UConn player, who dropped 17 dimes in 28 minutes of play. Williams has always been known as a talent around the league, but his skills have never stuck and he is recognized as having character issues. He looked excellent, showing great vision and limiting his turnovers to 1...Marcus Williams should be backup point guard for the Grizzlies this season.
  • Marcus Williams might have put up a killer stat line but he didn't look great or even NBA ready. Barely passed the ball, settled for fading threes with 15 seconds on the shot clock, looked for his own shot to a fault. Mike Taylor might have sent him to the line 20 times, but a real NBA point guard wouldn't be so foolish. I would venture to guess even Mike Taylor wouldn't foul him 9 times in a real game. Rumor has Anthony Carter coming to Memphis for the veteran's minimum because he'll be losing minutes with Denver picking up Ty Lawson. I would certainly advocate the steady, experienced Carter over Williams, who doesn't seem to have figured out that his game is as a pass-first guard.
  • Marcus Williams played pretty well, but still looked for his own shot a little too often to really fit the "pass-first" profile. Then again, everyone looks for their own shot in summer league (see DeMarre Carroll). In all these games he is lucking out keeping his TO count down, lots of his passes are getting deflected but ending up in Grizz hands.
  • Marcus Williams looked pretty solid again. His risky passes finally caught up to him and he picked up a bunch of TOs tonight. I knew it was going to happen given how many were getting deflected. He was relatively poised down the stretch and hit the game winner, though he also took some TERRIBLE looks. His three point form is really poor. He fades away almost constantly and in all kinds of directions for basically no reason.

Not that I don't stand by signing Williams, because I do, but don't let anyone tell you that the kid looked fantastic in Summer League. He looked like he had skills but was typically somewhat selfish or overly flashy, which has pretty much always been the write-up.

Still for the price he is a good pickup. He'll push Conley and back him up effectively without getting in his head and stealing his minutes like Kyle Lowry, and under $1 million is an excellent price for a player with as much promise as Williams shows. In comparison a player like C.J. Watson looks like he might be getting over $2.3 million a year for multiple years. In fact if I have any problem with this deal, I would have liked to see a few extra years tacked on at this price or, optimally, a team option.

And finally, since we all love new media so, when I tweeted Rudy Gay to see how he felt about the deal he sent back:

Marcus Williams would be a great addition to our team! Thanks for asking

Sounds like a good enough endorsement for me. But what do you think?

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