ORLANDO, Fla. — Latavious Williams will have to continue to wait his turn.
The NBA dreams of one of the most promising prospects the Thunder has stashed away are stuck in a holding pattern, and the 2012-13 season doesn't appear to be the year he'll make it to Oklahoma City.
Williams is a former second-round pick in 2010 who the Thunder acquired in a draft-night trade. He's an athletic 6-foot-8 power forward who made headlines in 2009 for becoming the first player to go from high school straight to the NBA D-League.
He was drafted into the D-League by the Thunder-owned Tulsa 66ers as the 16th overall pick. But he's found that reaching the next step is the most challenging obstacle he's faced in his career.
For now, all he can do is remain patient.
“I've been patient this long so I'm just going to keep it rolling and just do what I've got to do and see what's next,” Williams said.
Williams is short on options.
He can join the Thunder for training camp in the fall and compete for a roster spot. But the Thunder already has 15 players under contract, and Williams would have to beat out partially guaranteed forward Hollis Thompson for the final spot. If he doesn't, the Thunder would have to waive him and Oklahoma City would lose his rights, making Williams a free agent.
The main alternative is again playing overseas, where Williams competed last season as a member of the Spanish club Joventut.
Taking the overseas route is the more lucrative option, and the one Williams on Thursday said he prefers over another stint in the D-League — where he could continue his development under close supervision while awaiting a potential call-up by the Thunder next season.
But as the Thunder's 15-man roster gets more difficult to crack, Williams has found it more difficult to not be frustrated. It's been so tough for Williams to not be in the NBA that he said reporting to camp and getting cut doesn't sound like such a bad idea.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “But right now I don't mind because I can try out with another team or just do whatever from there.”
When you watch Williams run the floor and spring off the court for rebounds and blocked shots, it becomes hard to ignore his natural abilities. He has gobs of talent and is still just 23, suggesting he's years away from realizing his full potential.