Derrick Williams, who opted out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks this past June, told Marc Berman of the NY Post that the decision was tough.
"For sure it was a tough decision,'' Williams said. "I love my time in New York. Being one of the fan favorites, leaving a place where I felt I could keep getting better, keep growing. But ultimately I feel it was the right decision. It might not seem that way right now. But I'm getting better each day. Even though I may not be on the court right now, this is for the second half of the season."
Williams, who played 80 games for the Knicks last season, has appeared in just 11 of the Heat's 20 games so far in 2016-17.
He added that the Knicks didn't reach out to him after he opted out of his contract.
"I didn't talk to the Knicks after July 1," Williams said. "I don't know if they thought I was leaving. I was a little surprised there was not a lot of noise with them.''
With Williams set to opt out of his deal last offseason and the climate of the NBA economy changing, he could have capitalized on his strong campaign to sign a contract starting somewhere around $8-10 million annually.
Similar players cashed in, so the stage was set for Williams to leave the Knicks. That's why it left some scratching their heads when he opted to sign an one-year, $5 million contract with Miami. Surely, New York could have negotiated and found a way to make a reunion work if they wanted to.
Williams is a very explosive offensive player who is capable of igniting the home crowd and swinging the momentum in his team's favor. Every team needs a player like that. He provided a spark off the bench. Years after being considered a bust as the No.2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Williams appeared to have found his niche.
Instead, New York opted to reward Lance Thomas and sign Mindaugas Kuzminskas, among others, to fill the gap. The Knicks are playing well and the reserves aren't leaving much to be desired at this point, so that's a good sign. Not retaining the energetic Williams hasn't come back to hurt them. Had they considered bringing him back, however, they probably could have done so at a reasonable price. His positive contributions warranted that signing him should have been explored further.