EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Terrence Williams' sprained ankle and rumored guarantee didn't scare off the Nets.
They used the No. 11 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft on the versatile Louisville swingman, who perhaps more than anything brings a defensive mind-set to a team that believes defense is optional.
"I can come in right away and help on the defensive end and be an off guard who can help bring the ball up the court with (Devin) Harris, get rebounds, and I love to pass," Williams said after his only workout with the Nets.
The Nets wanted to bring in Williams for a second workout Tuesday, but he canceled after suffering an alleged ankle injury in Charlotte the day before.
Speculation was that the Bobcats had given Williams a guarantee that they would take him 12th. He never got there.
Williams, who turns 22 Sunday, said he expected to be a Net or Bobcat. He heard Charlotte might trade up to get him.
Nets president Rod Thorn said before the draft that "guarantees" wouldn't stop him from taking a player if he liked him, and he was true to his word.
Earlier on Thursday, the Nets traded arguably the best scorer in their history, Vince Carter, and Ryan Anderson to the Magic for Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie. They weren't going to find a replacement scorer in this draft, so they took someone who could stop people and help them become a running team again.
"It means a lot," Williams said. "It shows you where the team wants to go. They're putting more into me, me and Courtney Lee to fill what Mr. Carter has done. It shows the type of direction we're going, as far as running. I think we can fill that spot, that void."
They chose Williams, a solidly built 6 feet 6 and 220 pounds, over athletic Duke guard Gerald Henderson and North Carolina power forward Tyler Hansbrough. There was a growing belief that Hansbrough, a fierce competitor, would be the Nets' pick. But they went with versatility over intensity.
Williams can play three positions. He considers himself a shooting guard, although shooting might be the weakest part of his game. He's more of a point forward and does a little bit of everything.
The first senior taken, Williams patterned his game after Magic Johnson. He averaged 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals last season for Louisville.
The Nets like to play small and do it with players they can slide at different positions, including Williams.
"I think he's a multiple position guy," Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. "Those guys are extremely valuable, especially as we go on, and people aren't carrying as many players as they used to on the roster. You have to have guys who can do lots of things. So guys who play alternate positions become more valuable."1 comment on this story
It's too early to call Williams a starter, but there probably will be some healthy competition at shooting guard and small forward in training camp in the fall.
Lee, Keyon Dooling, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Williams could vie for starting off guard alongside Devin Harris. Douglas-Roberts, Williams, Bobby Simmons and Jarvis Hayes could be in the running for small forward.
"Everywhere," Williams said when asked where he's most comfortable. "That's not being cocky. I think I fit in well. I can do well at a lot of positions."