Auburn Hills — When Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy saw the name on the waiver wire, he remembered some advice he'd gotten from a colleague last summer.

"When we talked about the guys he's coached — (former coach Mike D'Antoni) just said straight-out, if you ever get a chance to pick up Shawne Williams, you want to do it," Van Gundy said. "He's a great teammate, a hard-working guy, a tough guy and he can really shoot it."

So Van Gundy picked up Williams, a 6-foot-9 power forward who started the season with the Heat but was traded to the Pelicans and then released this week. After the Pistons traded Jonas Jerebko to the Celtics, they needed some depth at forward, and Williams (6.6 points, 3.2 rebounds) was a good short-term option.

But Van Gundy envisions Williams as a longer-term asset because of his cap-friendly contract.

"He's got a great value contract — he's better than his contract — so any chance to get somebody like that (you do)," Van Gundy said. "We like to play a good part of the game, two-thirds maybe, with the floor spread out and he gives us another guy.

"He's a guy we can go forward with into next year. It was an easy decision; we had to sweat it out whether we were going to get him on the waiver claim. We were really fortunate and very, very happy."

Williams, who turned 29 last week, is looking to having some staying power with the the Pistons, his ninth team in seven seasons.

"What helps him a lot is that especially on the defensive end, our concepts and Miami's concepts are virtually identical," Van Gundy said. "Even a lot of the terminology is the same. He really picked things up quickly and was good. We don't have a huge offensive package for him yet but he practiced well."

After being drafted 17th overall in 2006 out of Memphis, Williams has had some issues with drugs (arrested for marijuana). But things hve changed.

"I had a baby, a son (Shawne Jr., who is 21/2 years old)," he said. "I know I'm his role model and he looks up to me. I have to do the best I can for him; if not, I'm letting him down."

Knicks at Pistons

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Palace, Auburn Hills

TV/radio: FSD/WMGC

Outlook: The Knicks (10-46) have lost eight straight and have the worst record in the NBA. ... Playing without Carmelo Anthony (injury) will allow the Knicks to see what else they have on the roster. ... Pistons assistant Tim Hardaway Sr. will get another glimpse at his son, Tim Jr., in his second season.