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    Default Shawne Williams a ghost of potential

    Shawne Williams has gone from being a celebrated first-round NBA draft pick to someone who may as well adopt the nickname Casper.

    He's suddenly become a ghost in the basketball world.
    Shawne Williams

    The Dallas Mavericks employ Williams. He's officially on their roster. The 6-9 forward is earning more than $2 million.

    But Williams is not mentioned in the team's game notes. You won't see the former University of Memphis standout on the Mavs' bench when they visit the Grizzlies tonight.

    "He was asked to leave," Mavs owner Mark Cuban wrote in an e-mail. "Can't get into it beyond that."

    Cuban gave the Dallas Morning News a more blunt response: "We got Shawne Williams and took a chance on him. It didn't work out and we put him out to pasture."

    What ever happened to Shawne Williams?

    The 23-year-old Memphian out of Hamilton High, whose hoops dream got interrupted by some incidents, finds his career on hold. He's literally being paid to stay away from the Mavs.

    Listen to Williams, and he doesn't sound disturbed or discouraged.

    "I just feel like there were a lot of irreconcilable differences," Williams said. "If I could be there, I would be there. It's not like I'm not there by choice. It's by force. But I don't have a grudge. Mark's a great owner. He's hands-on. He likes basketball. We're just two different people. It's a business."

    On the surface, Williams is experiencing the same treatment the Indiana Pacers dished to Griz point guard Jamaal Tinsley nearly two years ago. Both players were told to stay away from their respective franchises even though they could play at a high level.

    "I just learned from it," Tinsley said. "The only thing I can tell Shawne is that when you get another opportunity just play hard and do what's asked. It's a business. There's always somebody else there to take your spot on the roster."

    Williams has been dogged by off-court issues that have clouded the opinion of his basketball worth since 2006 when the Pacers drafted him. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle -- Williams' coach while a rookie with the Pacers -- insisted on swapping veteran Eddie Jones for Williams in October 2008.

    Yet Williams has spent more time between Dallas, Memphis and Las Vegas with personal trainers than in NBA arenas over the past year.

    Williams' agent, Happy Walters, blames Williams' circumstance on perception, pointing out that his client hasn't experienced legal issues in Dallas.

    "He's not as bad as what everyone seems to think," Walters said. "Shawne and Mark Cuban haven't seen eye-to-eye. It has nothing to do with the (Dallas) coaches and teammates. It's between him and Mark."

    Williams insists his separation has mainly to do with a difference of opinion on what his role should be. Williams said he expected to play more, and the Mavs were unwilling to commit.

    "I knew I was going to a talented team," Williams said. "I didn't know I wasn't going to play."

    The Mavs had little complaints about his basketball ability. They consider him a talent. His toughness, skill set and love for the game were never brought into question.

    The Mavs, much like the Pacers, quickly became disenchanted by Williams' lifestyle off the court.

    Mavs security personnel and Dallas law enforcement began to warn the organization about Williams' personal behavior.

    Williams downplayed his social life and insisted he was always ready to perform.

    "A lot of stuff I did three years ago, I won't do right now," Williams said. "You get older and grow up. That's life. I had a lot of problems when I first got into the NBA but I was young. I feel like I haven't gotten into any trouble not to be on the court. I'm finally not getting into trouble and I'm not on the court. That's mind-boggling."

    Williams has turned to his former college coach, John Calipari, at times for "some suggestions." Walters has talked to the Mavericks about buying out his client's contract. During training camp, Williams was willing to take less than the $2.4 million he will be paid this season. The Mavs, however, reportedly are keeping Williams in case he can help facilitate a future trade.

    Williams sounded confident he'll find a new home by the February trade deadline. "But it's been a very frustrating process," Walters said. "Mark's a powerful guy. Once he has his mind made up it's hard to change it."

    Williams, fairly or not, has a role to play in convincing another team to take a chance on him should he become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

    "That's the perception," Williams said. "But I'm not putting myself in bad positions. That's the past."

    Williams' past includes an arrest in September 2007 after a traffic stop when an officer found marijuana in the SUV he was driving. He pleaded guilty to driving without a license. The Pacers suspended Williams for three games.

    It was one of three incidents involving police over a span of 13 months.

    A murder suspect in Tennessee was arrested shortly after leaving Williams' suburban Indianapolis home, and police later arrested a passenger for marijuana possession in Williams' car. Williams was not arrested but was ticketed for window tint and seatbelt violations.

    "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Williams said about those transgressions. "A lot of people I had around me I shouldn't have. I was young. I feel like (Pacers president) Larry Bird and I had a good enough relationship that he asked me if I liked the trade to (Dallas). I agreed to the trade. And Larry said he thought it would be good for me."

    Williams is convinced he'll be celebrated again in the NBA; that he won't be a ghost for long.

    "I'm a comeback kid," Williams said. "I'll be back."
    By Ronald Tillery
    "So, which one of you guys is going to come in second?" - Larry Bird before the 3 point contest. He won.

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