For the last two seasons, Nigel Williams-Goss has been gone, but not forgotten.
So on Saturday morning, when the Jazz came to a three-year agreement with Williams-Goss on the former Gonzaga point guard’s return to Utah, it wasn’t a surprise.
The 24-year-old Williams-Goss was drafted No. 55 by the Jazz in the 2017 NBA draft after helping Gonzaga reach the national title game for the first time, albeit in defeat to North Carolina. But he disappointed in his first summer league performance with the Jazz: Over the course of seven games, he averaged just 4.4 points and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 23.8% from the field.
Williams-Goss went overseas, and immediately surprised and impressed with his play. For Partizan — a basketball club based in Belgrade, Serbia — he stood out, winning Serbian Cup MVP after a season in which he averaged 17 points and 7 assists per game in all competitions. The season earned him an upgrade in clubs to Olympiacos: While Partizan plays its European competition in the EuroCup, Olympiacos participates in the best league in Europe, the EuroLeague.
There, he was solid. He averaged 10.1 points and 4.3 assists per game in all competitions for the Greek team, shooting 42.3% from the field and 38.4% from 3 under former NBA head coach David Blatt. It was enough, reportedly, to earn the interest of NBA teams, including the Jazz, who retained Williams-Goss’ NBA rights after he went overseas.
The signing means that the Jazz will have a battle in training camp for playing time at the guard positions. Emmanuel Mudiay, signed last week, has the NBA starting experience for a bad New York Knicks team last year, but Williams-Goss is perhaps more steady, less mistake-prone than the former No. 7 pick. Both players are capable of playing a little shooting guard, too, giving the Jazz some size and versatility. Dante Exum, of course, figures to be in the conversation as a defensive option, both at point guard and at the wing positions.
Williams-Goss could also spend time with the G League Salt Lake City Stars.
The Jazz still have two roster spots left, but very limited money: Any player could be signed for the minimum to a one- or two-year contract. Before the Williams-Goss agreement, the Jazz had $1.5-$1.7 million in cap space remaining to incentivize a player to sign beyond the minimum, but some of that extra money could have been used in Saturday’s deal; the exact money Williams-Goss is slated to make is unknown.