Clippers’ C.J. Williams playing inspired basketball

Clippers guard C.J. Williams drives against Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandan Wright during a Dec. 23 game.
(Brandon Dill / Associated Press)

Each game C.J. Williams has played for the Clippers has shown his growth as a player, but his future with the team remains uncertain.

On Tuesday night at Staples Center, Williams scored a career-high 18 points against the Memphis Grizzlies in his 37th day as a Clipper.

The number is important because Williams is on a two-way contract with the Clippers, meaning he is allowed to spend up to 45 days with an NBA team and the rest with its development league team.

Williams has played in 24 games with the Clippers, but also spent days practicing with them when he wasn’t playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario.

Under the rules, a two-way player whose contract reaches the 45-day limit must be awarded a “regular” NBA contract in order to continue playing on that team.


Of course, the NBA team must have an open roster spot available, and the Clippers do.

Williams could spend the rest of the season with the Ontario squad after reaching the 45-day limit. But teammate Austin Rivers is injured, so Williams, who plays small forward and shooting guard, may be needed.

Rivers, who has a sore right Achilles’ tendon, was listed as questionable by the Clippers for Thursday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. Rivers has already missed the last two games because of the injury and was scheduled to have it reevaluated.

Through it all, Williams acknowledged that his tenuous future has weighed on him.

“It’s hard not to think about it,” Williams said. “But once the game comes, I’m focused on the game, focused on what I’m doing. I can’t really think about what’s going to happen in the future. I just have to play.”

For Williams, it has been about living in the moment.

He has started 10 games and has been thankful for being able to average 18 minutes and 5.3 points for the Clippers this season.

“Oh, man, I can’t believe I’m here,” Williams said. “Just thinking a couple of years ago I was on a small team in France, and now I’m playing on the biggest stage in the world. It’s amazing. I’m just happy that I can contribute to the team and help us win.”

As a 27-year-old rookie, Williams is more mature than most first-year players.

His teammates have noticed how much he appreciates the opportunity.

“He’s an older guy, so he’s not a young punk, so to speak,” Lou Williams said, smiling. “Even though he’s a rookie, he’s an older guy and he’s been around the block. He’s had to work to be in the position he’s in now and he’s taking advantage of it.”



When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. PST.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 570, 1330.

Update: Over three games, Clippers forward Blake Griffin — who missed the previous 14 games because of a sprained medial collateral ligament injury to his left knee — has averaged 23.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists in 33.3 minutes per game. The Clippers have won six consecutive home games, their longest win streak of the season.