Reggie Williams could be excused if he felt a bit like Scrooge this Christmas.
The former Dunbar star was waived by the San Antonio Spurs Monday, just two days before his $250,000 contract would have been guaranteed for the season.
"We basically waived Reggie because Sidney Green is coming back [off injured reserve] and that means Terry [Cummings] will be able to play a lot at small forward," said Spurs coach Larry Brown. "We also want to play Sean Higgins [a rookie out of Michigan] at small forward."
His attitude and work habits, called into question during disappointing stints with the Los Angeles Clippers (1987-89) and Cleveland, were not a problem in San Antonio.
In fact, one Spurs observer in San Antonio who requested anonymity described Williams last night as "a model citizen. He always showed up for practice. He always worked hard."
The San Antonio Express-News reported numerous calls from fans questioning the move, citing the fact Williams was the Midwest Division leader's lone three-point threat, hitting 14 of 26, including three of three in a loss to Milwaukee Saturday that snapped an eight-game win streak.
Bob Bass, Spurs vice president of Operations, admitted as much.
"He gave a great effort and certainly shot the ball very well," Bass told the San Antonio Express-News. "But there are only so many minutes you can give. With Sean Elliott the starter at small forward and the development of Sean Higgins [along with Green, Cummings and David Greenwood at power forward], we were simply overloaded at forward."
So Williams, shooting 48 percent and averaging 7.8 points and 16 minutes per game, was waived with guard Pete Myers as the Spurs cut their roster to 11, one under the NBA maximum. The Spurs hope to fill that spot with a backup point guard to Rod Strickland, but Brown said, "If Reggie clears waivers, there's an outside chance he can be back."
If not, it could be the close of another disappointing chapter for Williams, 26, who starred on a Dunbar powerhouse in the early '80s with future NBA players Reggie Lewis, Muggsy Bogues and David Wingate before attaining All-America status and a national title at Georgetown.
The fourth choice overall in the 1987 draft, Williams signed with the Clippers what at that time was the richest rookie contract ever for a non-center. But Williams, 6 feet 7 and 180 pounds, averaged 10.4 points in an injury-plagued rookie season, shooting 36 percent, and then worked his way into Clippers coach Don Casey's doghouse his second season, being suspended when he refused to enter a game in April 1989.
Traded to Cleveland and waived 3 1/2 months later, Williams, who has been unavailable for comment since Monday, signed with San Antonio last March as a free agent. He made this year's team and had several impressive games, including 19- and 18-point efforts off the bench.