MINNEAPOLIS -- For a guy who was drafted second overall just three years ago, Derrick Williams has enjoyed precious little security in his short time with the Minnesota Timberwolves. His name has been the subject of trade rumours almost from the moment he was drafted, and he has spent his first two seasons in the league trying to get on the same page with Wolves coach Rick Adelman while grasping the complexities of learning two positions. So when he finally gets a little something to hold on to, its no surprise that Williams is appreciative. Timberwolves president Flip Saunders informed Williams on Tuesday morning that the team will pick up his contract option for next season, guaranteeing the $6.3 million on the deal. "I think everybody knows that if they didnt pick up my option I would have been unrestricted (free agent) and, basically, could have done whatever," Williams said after practice. "So it helps, the security. Youre guaranteed at least one more year in the NBA, you know? And, as long as you have that, I think everything is good." The decision by the Timberwolves doesnt mean Williams wont continue to see his name in the trade rumour mill. Hes still adjusting to playing two positions -- small forward in addition to his more natural power forward -- and he admits he still has a lot to learn on both ends of the court. "Its tough. Especially when, ever since Ive been here, Ive heard trade rumours," Williams said. "Really since I was picked. So it seems like every other day there is something new." But hes also just 22 years old, and Saunders sees him as a young asset that deserves the chance to continue to develop. Williams is the second-leading scorer for the Wolves in the preseason and has a chance to be the teams starting small forward while Chase Budinger recovers from a knee injury. Adelman said he has been pleased with how hard Williams has been working, which appears to be progress for a coach who hasnt always been happy with the youngsters effort. "I think hes played very hard," Adelman said. "He rebounded the ball very well the other night (against Boston) and its a process for him. Its kind of a disadvantage when he has to play two spots because youre jumping back and forth. Right now thats what we have to do." Williams averaged 15.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and shot 34 per cent from 3-point range over the final 33 games of the season while filling in at power forward for the injured Kevin Love. But with Love back this season, Williams will have to be able to play small forward to get significant minutes. He feels more confident this year than he ever has, so much so that he thinks he should be starting on opening night against Orlando on Oct. 30. "I think I deserve to be," Williams said. "Thats why they drafted me here. They didnt draft me to come off the bench, things like that. Ultimately, its up to Coach. Im just here to play basketball." Khris Middleton Jersey
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