The Lakers have filled out most of their roster heading into the 2019-20 season, but one player who looks like he hasn’t made the cut is Johnathan Williams. After giving Williams a qualifying offer, the Lakers have now reportedly rescinded that offer, making him an unrestricted free agent:
The Los Angeles Lakers have rescinded the qualifying offer for Johnathan Williams and have renounced his free agent rights.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 7, 2019
Williams played the majority of last season for the Lakers on a two-way contract. He appeared in 24 games for the NBA team, coming off the bench in all his appearances, and 6.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 60.2% on 2-pointers. Williams’ value was probably at its zenith early in the season when he provided much-needed center depth while the team experimented with Kyle Kuzma at the five. But the Lakers signed Tyson Chandler in early November, and thus had less use for Williams’ services.
Williams resurfaced with the big club in March once the team had essentially been eliminated from playoff consideration, once again taking the role of JaVale McGee’s backup. He provides a lot of energy, particularly when it comes to boxing out, but as an undersized center, there was a limit to his effectiveness against the biggest fives in the league.
Now, it appears that the Lakers are no longer interested in retaining Williams on the roster. That also has to do with the new roster composition in Los Angeles. The team signed two centers in free agency, McGee and DeMarcus Cousins, meaning Williams wouldn’t be a part of the regular rotation. The Lakers also have Anthony Davis who can play small-ball five, which negates a lot of Williams’ utility.
The Lakers could theoretically bring back Williams on a minimum deal or even on another two-way contract, since they currently have Zach Norvell (incidentally another Gonzaga product) as their only two-way. Given the needs of the NBA roster, however, it might behoove the Lakers to use their remaining resources towards more backcourt help, specifically a point guard or wing with the ability to run a pick-and-roll.
Williams did well with his opportunity with the Lakers last year in the NBA, and he has outclassed most of his G League competition, but there really isn’t a role for him on this year’s team.