Wizards, Johnathan Williams Close To Deal

The Wizards are close to a deal with former Lakers two-way player Johnathan Williams, sources tell Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Katz cautions that the signing won’t get done immediately.

The injury-plagued Wizards have already qualified for one extra roster spot via the hardship provision and used it today to sign Gary Payton II. Now, per Katz, they’ll apply for a second extra roster spot to accommodate Williams.

As we explained in our story on Payton, the NBA can grant a team a hardship exception when that team has at least four players who have missed three or more games due to injury or illness and are expected to miss at least two more weeks. If a team has five players who fit that bill, a second additional roster spot can be granted.

Assuming the Wizards get approval for that second extra roster spot, they’ll use it on Williams, who was a two-way player for the Lakers in 2018/19, spending most of his time with the South Bay Lakers in the G League. The young forward/center averaged 15.3 PPG and 8.4 RPG in 36 NBAGL contests (27.3 MPG), and appeared in 24 games for the NBA club, posting averages of 6.5 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 15.5 minutes per contest.

As a free agent this past offseason, Williams signed with Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion, where he had averaged 12.2 PPG and 10.4 RPG in nine Israeli League games.

The Wizards have had some success in recent years with big men who were former Lakers prospects, as Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner have both blossomed in Washington. Williams is unlikely to replicate their success, but could help bridge the gap for the Wizards until they start to get healthier.

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