Mavs From the Past: Herb Williams

Herb Williams was traded mid-season in 1989 to the Dallas Mavericks, from the Indiana Pacers for Detlef Schrempf and a 1990 second-round draft pick. During his first half-season with the Mavericks, he played in 30 games while starting in 20 of them at center. He averaged 6.6 points per game (PPG), 6.6 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.2 assists per game (APG), and 1.8 blocks per game (BPG) in his first season in Dallas.

In Williams’ first full season on the Mavericks, he played in 81 games while starting in 19. He averaged 8.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, and 1.3 BPG. The following season is when he had his best scoring season during his Mavericks tenure. He averaged 12.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, and 1.5 BPG in his third season in Dallas, while playing in 60 games and starting in 36.

The following year would be his final one in Dallas. In his final season with the Mavericks, Williams averaged 11.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, and 1.3 BPG. At the beginning of the 1992 season, Williams signed with the New York Knicks.

During his time with the Knicks, he was a regular off the bench, helping out as a backup big man to Patrick Ewing. They made the 1994 NBA Finals but lost to the Houston Rockets in seven. He was with the Knicks for three and a half seasons, the last half-season in which he didn’t play any game for them. On February 18, 1996, Williams was traded from the Knicks to the Toronto Raptors. He played one game in Toronto where he scored six points, grabbed eight rebounds, one steal, and two blocks in 31 minutes. On February 23, 1996, he was waived by the Raptors. He re-signed with the Knicks six days later and he would play there for three and half more seasons. The Knicks made the 1999 NBA Finals in his second tenure with them but they would fall in five games to the San Antonio Spurs. Williams retired after the 1999 NBA Finals.

During Williams’ time in Dallas, he averaged 10.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, and 1.4 BPG. He was mainly used as a big man off the bench that could help on both sides of the court while the starters rested. As part of the Knicks, he was able to reach the Finals twice but never won a ring.

Since retiring Williams hasn’t gotten far from the court. During the 2001-2002 NBA season, he became assistant coach of the Knicks as part of Don Chaney’s coaching staff. He also was an assistant coach to Lenny Wilkens, while still an assistant coach on the Knicks. In between Chaney’s and Wilken’s coaching tenure, Williams was an interim head coach for one game in 2004, a game the Knicks won. After Wilkens got fired mid-season as head coach, Williams became head coach of the Knicks for the rest of the 2004-2005 season. He went 16-27 as head coach. 

Williams went back to becoming an assistant coach on the Knicks and was part of the coaching staff under Larry Brown, Isaiah Thomas, Mike D’ Antoni, and Mike Woodson. In 2014, the entire coaching staff got fired. 

In 2015, Williams joined the WNBA New York Liberty as an assistant coach, where he would work with the front-court players mainly.

During Williams’ career, he became a helpful big man off the bench that could help on both sides of the court. He continued to help the Knicks after he retired as an assistant and head coach. In 2012, he was honored with the Dick McGuire Knickerbocker Legacy Award, an award given to individuals who contribute positively on and off the court. As a Liberty assistant coach, he helped the women of the frontcourt to become their best selves. Williams helped his team and anyone around him in every way possible.

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