Boston Celtics forward Shelden Williams logged his fourth consecutive "Did Not Play -- Coach's Decision" during Monday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers and appears to have slipped to the very end of Boston's bench.
Williams, the former first-round pick (fifth overall in 2006) of the Atlanta Hawks, signed a one-year, $825,000 contract to join the Celtics this season and played a pivotal role in solidifying the frontcourt when Glen Davis started the year sidelined with a fractured right thumb.
And while Celtics coach Doc Rivers contended at the time that there was still room for Williams in the rotation when Davis returned, he's not so certain any more, even after Boston endured a recent stretch with injuries to nearly all of its big bodies, including Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett and Brian Scalabrine.
Rivers was asked a politely-phrased question about Williams' progress in recent weeks, but he didn't sugarcoat his response.
"Right now he's got guys in front of him," said Rivers. "I don't know what you mean by how he's coming along. Right now he's not playing a whole bunch. He's just working. He's been a great teammate, we knew that when we signed him, that he could be ready to play when we needed him and, if he didn't, he'd still show up and practice hard. He's done all those things, so a lot of credit needs to go to him."
Asked directly whether there was room for Williams in Boston's rotation, Rivers continued to be blunt.
"I don't know, it's always a competition and there's a lot of bodies," said Rivers. "Rasheed, Glen Davis, Scalabrine -- all of them are going to play."
Which leaves Williams, who is averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, a likely candidate to slide to inactive when the Celtics return to full health with the impending return of both Marquis Daniels (left thumb) and Scalabrine (right shoulder AC sprain). Even second-year forward Bill Walker got off the bench in the first half of Monday's win.
Williams enjoyed a strong start to the 2009-10 season, being a productive member for the first 11 games of the season, but he faded quickly. After nearly posting a double-double (10 points, 9 rebounds) in 18 minutes against Indiana on Nov. 14, Williams' minutes were practically cut in half in the games that followed.
He logged his first DNP on Dec. 3 against the San Antonio Spurs and endured three more before the end of the month.
In January, he's averaged 1.3 points and 2.3 rebounds over 9.1 minutes in seven appearances. Williams played 18 minutes in a lopsided win over the Nets, but missed both shots he took and registered five fouls. He finished with six rebounds.
Williams simply doesn't seem to be playing with the confidence he had at the start of the season and that likely has led to a lack of confidence from his coach. Even still, Rivers likes the security of having Williams on the roster.
"I'd rather have [depth]. I don't mind logjams," said Rivers. "I'd rather have that than not have it. That's a good logjam to have."