The New York Knicks on Sunday waive Patrick Ewing Jr. and keep Shawne Williams for the final roster spot. Williams spent his summer training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., home to the most elite summer basketball camp in the country. Williams trained alongside Larry Sanders and Derrick Caracter, and like Caracter, he dropped a significant amount of weight. "He is a true student of the game and will be a great complement at the stretch 4," said IMG Academy coach Dan Barto. "His shot-hunting abilities are unique, and he should surprise many of those NBA personnel that wrote him off. He dedicated himself this summer to a rigorous regiment and has answered all the challenges thus far."
Rock bottom for Shawne Williams occurred sometime last season when he was out of work and back home in Memphis.
His young nieces and nephews wondered why their uncle, the 17th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, was not playing NBA games on television.
"At first I didn't even know they understood," Williams, 24, said Monday after Knicks practice. "But after me being away, they understand more than I thought."
After multiple arrests on drug, gun and suspended license charges -- "All that's past," he said of his legal difficulties -- the 6-foot-9 Williams has found yet another NBA life, this time as the 15th and final man on the Knicks roster.
The Knicks on Sunday waived Patrick Ewing Jr. and kept Williams for the final spot. He will be on the bench when the Knicks open the season Wednesday in Toronto.
"I'm not going to lie," Williams said. "I really thought it was a long shot. I knew I had to work. They told me it was going to be between me and him, and I had an opportunity. And once they told me I had an opportunity, I took it for what it was and just tried to go show them everything I can do with the limited minutes I played."
Williams averaged 3.0 points in four preseason games and showed president Donnie Walsh and head coach Mike D'Antoni enough to keep him even though Ewing had a partially guaranteed contract.
"Both of them played great," D'Antoni said. "It just comes down to a number. It's the worst feeling in the world to have to cut somebody, but [you] just have to do it." In the end, Williams was more productive offensively during the preseason.
"He can play three or four," D'Antoni said. "He shoots the basketball extremely well. He was our best shooter in preseason and he makes shots. He's got himself in shape. He was the 17th pick and he's got plenty of time."
Williams averaged 13.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals in his only season at Memphis in 2005-06.
Walsh drafted him to Indiana in 2006, but a year later Williams was arrested in Indianapolis on a marijuana possession charge.
Williams was acquired by the Dallas Mavericks after two seasons in Indiana. But by January 2009, the Mavericks had sent him home to Memphis. He spent last season out of the league.
"I was so young when I first came into the league," he said of his legal problems. "Over years, you grow up, you develop a lot of common sense and you figure a lot of things out. So that's what happened."
Still, the problems persisted.
In January 2010, Williams was arrested in Memphis on felony drug charges for selling a codeine substance. In July, Williams was arrested again for driving with a suspended license; he was also found to possess marijuana and a loaded gun.
"It was a letdown for my family," he said. "It was a letdown for me, too. But it takes a toll on your family when they expect something from you and you just disappear for the circuit for a while."
Williams' weight ballooned to 265 pounds and he admitted to "getting depressed sometimes."
To get back in shape, Williams spent part of the summer training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with other future NBA players, including Derrick Caracter and Larry Sanders.
He dropped 40 pounds and got down to 225.
"He is a true student of the game and will be a great complement at the stretch 4," said IMG Academy coach Dan Barto. "His shot-hunting abilities are unique, and he should surprise many of those NBA personnel that wrote him off. He dedicated himself this summer to a rigorous regiment and has answered all the challenges thus far."
Despite his legal troubles this summer, Williams said his epiphany came when he was at home in Memphis and decided he belonged in the NBA.
"One day, I just woke up and me and my agent had a talk, and I just felt like this is what i wanted to do for the rest of my life," he said. "So I've got to do everything possible to make sure that happens."
He added: "My journey's just beginning. This is just the beginning of it and I've just got to keep working hard, and whenever coach calls me, I've got to be ready."