Williams has helped turn the team around and Wells has the potential to do the same, so the Grizzlies hope the only trouble their new backcourt causes is on the court for the opposition.
Wells, acquired in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday for Wesley Person and a conditional first-round draft pick, is expected to make his Grizzlies debut as they host the struggling Washington Wizards.
Wells was stripped of his co-captaincy at Portland, and suspended two games earlier this season for cursing at coach Maurice Cheeks. Wells also was fined last month for making an obscene gesture at a fan after a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
In March, Wells was suspended one game for conduct considered detrimental to the team.
He was also suspended early last season by the league for spitting on San Antonio Spurs forward Danny Ferry, then was suspended for two games for his role in a postgame scuffle with the Golden State Warriors.
“All Portland players have that reputation right now with what’s going on with their team and everything,” Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol said. “Let’s see how it works out.”
Wells is averaging 13.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists for his career.
Before being coming to the Grizzlies in a trade with the Sacramento Kings in 2001, Williams picked up a reputation for being brash and unpredictable. Although Williams has missed two straight games with back spasms, he has been strong at point guard for a Grizzlies team that is above .500 this late in the season for the first time.
Williams, who is averaging 11.4 points and 7.1 assists, is close to returning to the lineup.
“What’s happening is that we’re finally getting the right plays for the right guys to run the clock and make something happen,” coach Hubie Brown said after the Grizzlies won their third straight.
Washington, which lost 97-72 to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, has dropped five of six.
Wizards forward Etan Thomas missed his second straight game due to the flu. Thomas’ status for this game is uncertain.
“With the injuries we have, we have to play perfect basketball,” Haywood said. “You hate to use injuries as an excuse but we’re low on bodies. We’ve got to find a way to fight through it.”
STANDINGS (through Dec. 3): Wizards - 4th place (tied), 2 GB, Atlantic Division. Grizzlies - 6th place, 2 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Wizards - Arenas, 20.8 ppg and 5.5 apg; Thomas, 7.8 rpg. Grizzlies - Gasol, 18.1 ppg and 8.2 rpg; Williams, 7.1 apg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 18; Wizards, 118-100. At Washington, Michael Jordan had 33 points to lead the Wizards.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wizards - 3-7 on the road; Grizzlies - 3-3 at home.