Atlanta Hawks: Williams kept eye and ear on Hawks

Guard Lou Williams signed with the Hawks as a free agent in July after seven seasons with the 76ers. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Guard Lou Williams signed with the Hawks as a free agent in July after seven seasons with the 76ers. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Vivlamore reporting. Here is my story on Lou Williams that will appear in the Sunday print edition of the AJC.

The Hawks always had the inside track in their pursuit of Lou Williams.

The point guard says he envisioned himself one day playing for his hometown team while growing up in metro-Atlanta. After seven seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, who drafted him straight out of South Gwinnett High, Williams didn’t take long to make up his mind once a free agent this summer.

“It was actually a speedy process,” Williams said after a recent training camp practice. “It wasn’t difficult for me. There were three or four teams who were serious about getting me. Atlanta was one of them. I kind of gave Atlanta the edge because this was the hometown team. This was actually a team I’ve wanted to play for in middle school and high school growing up. Once we were able to work the terms out that were satisfactory for both sides it was a no-brainer for me.”

Williams had a well-documented stellar high school career at South Gwinnett. He was named Mr. Basketball in Georgia as both a junior and senior. He was the recipient of the Naismith Award in 2005 as the nation’s top high school player.

As the Hawks were undergoing their offseason makeover, Williams kept up with all their moves via close friend Josh Smith. The two have known each other since Williams was in the sixth grade after moving back to Atlanta from Memphis. They competed against each other in AAU tournaments and various elite basketball camps. They share the common thread of making the leap straight to the NBA from high school.

The 76ers moved in a different direction with the acquisition of center Andrew Bynum during the offseason. They became less a guard-oriented team, one that Williams flourished in during his tenure, and will play out of the post. Williams no longer fit their plans.

The writing on the wall, Williams kept an eye and ear on Atlanta.

“I was always familiar with the way things were moving because me and Josh would always communicate on a personal level as close friends,” Williams said. “Seeing Joe [Johnson] leaving and seeing that there was an opportunity to fill a void with scoring. And they brought Devin [Harris], DeShawn [Stevenson] and Anthony [Morrow] in before myself. Those were guys who I was interested in playing with. Those are guys I knew would compete at a high level. I wanted to be part of the process.”

Williams, now 26, knows his homecoming is a story in Atlanta. He joked that he needed a cue card with his response to the many questions about his arrival here at the team’s media day before the start of training camp.

Hawks general manager Danny Ferry said the team’s pursuit of Williams had nothing to do with his local connection. He was attracted to Williams’ skill set and leadership.

“He can play,” Ferry said. “He’s a guy who has some leadership qualities that I think will be a real positive to our group and change the chemistry of our group a bit. And he can score. Having a guy like that, whether he starts or comes off the bench, that can get his own shot and make a play at the end of the [shot] clock and know that any night he can have a big night. For us to be able to add him to this group is great.”

Williams led the 76ers in scoring last season with an average of 14.9 points in 64 games all off the bench. Williams became the first player to lead his team in total points without making a single start since Dell Curry did it with Charlotte in 1993-94. He said he has no preference to start or substitute with the Hawks, as long as he is part of the rotation.

With Williams, the Hawks have three speedy guards along with Jeff Teague and Harris. That was a plus when Williams was deciding the next step of his career.

“I’ve played in systems with a bunch of guards,” Williams said. “I’ve played with Jrue Holiday and Allen Iverson at the same time. I played with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner at the same time. Andre Miller and Allen Iverson at the same time. I’ve always been in systems where we’ve been deep at the guard position but everybody has an opportunity to play and contribute.

“It’s a situation I’m familiar with. I’m a team guy. I’m not interested in personal accolades. At this point in my career, in year number eight, it was to be about winning. It has to be about putting yourself around guys who want to compete at a high level. That’s what I’m about.”

- Chris Vivlamore

THE LATEST NEWS

* Three players vying for two roster spots

* Hawks serve it up at The Varisty

* Practice report: Defense, cuts and tweets

* Benson, Muhammad released

* Hawks changing offense without Joe Johnson

* Spurs win exhibition game on buzzer beater

* Ivan Johnson returns after offseason of reflection

Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks

16 comments Add your comment

ag

October 13th, 2012
8:16 am

Doc, to keep it in perspective, if you told me we would trade JJ for Petro and cut Benson – yes I would have done it also.

The Real Hawk

October 13th, 2012
8:20 am

Great addition!

Anna

October 13th, 2012
8:53 am

A great home town guy that will bring people to Phillips Arena. Thank God we got Lou and not whiny D12!!! Positive thinking goes a long way. Tick tock tick tock November is almost here.

ag

October 13th, 2012
9:02 am

Second article on Lou, but certainly a lot more content V. I can certainly appreciate his attitude and it is a bonus to want to play for a team that you followed as a youth. That is why I think Josh is going to retire a Hawk because that is all he know and loves.

It was even more interesting to understand the situations that Lou has been in – and I imagine certainly very challenging. He appears very optomitic and ready to do whatever it takes to win games.

Again, I think he LD can coach this team to it’s strengths , they will be a top tier NBA team. It will start with Josh. Josh has to understand his job is to be an inside force. He Josh drifts outside, we will be a .500 team.

Al has to improve his offensive rebound numbers and help interior defense.

Although only two games, I like the rebounding that James gives the team. I hope he is a strong defender. To be succesful in basketball, you can be great in other area’s to compensate for not being able to score.

Altough I have said I like Lou to start, I am leaning toward Jenkins. Looking at the box score, he did what he suppose to do- a modern day Randy Whittman.

JT0 still is my choice as the starting PG. I think he is a much better player when he concentrates on scoring. He is a good passer, but when he is has that mentality, he consistanly is looking to drive the basketball.

Although we have a plethora of talent, I don’t think every guy on the roster needs to play. I think Lou, Korver , Ivan and ZaZa is deep enough – maybe Harris or Stephenson. .

The one good thing about this roster, I think once we get a 20 point lead and play the reserves, those guys should be able to preserve the lead.

I MUS WRITE

October 13th, 2012
9:35 am

Glad to have Lou on this team, stand up guy with a much needed skill set.

Cornbread

October 13th, 2012
9:41 am

Can anyone please tell me how long he signed for?

Buddy Grizzard

October 13th, 2012
10:33 am

“Big men really only need two or three shots—the hook shot left and right, the turn-and-face and a counter. I worked on that all summer, and I’m going to be doing it in the game.” – Tristan Thompson

Just Joe

October 13th, 2012
10:43 am

I had originally seen 3 years $15.7M on Lou (shamsports), but now I’m seeing 2 years $10.5M (rotoworld, and hoopshype also suggests a 2 yr deal).

STRETCH

October 13th, 2012
10:53 am

Atlanta Hawks shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson apologized to his former teammate, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams on Twitter on Friday. Stevenson had blasted Williams on the social media site in response to comments Williams made about his ex-teammates laughing after losses during the franchise’s final season in New Jersey. “I Talk 2 My X Teammate 2Day And He Told Me That He Wasn’t Talking About Me And They Mis-Print What He Said……” Stevenson tweeted Friday. “So I’m A Real Dude And Want 2 Say Sorry 2 Dwill For Spazzing And A Real Dude Would Say Sorry! So Sorry Dwill “Takes Alot 4 A Man 2 Call A Man And Tell Me The Truth!! I Respect That!!” ESPN.com

Thats a good thing DWill and D-Stevenson did. Takes men to do that. Just gained some more respect from me! Now lets play some BBall!

falCans

October 13th, 2012
12:23 pm

Smoove fa President

Big Ray

October 13th, 2012
1:13 pm

Lou Williams is very much a welcome addition.

And, I actually think Anthony Morrow will turn out to be a good addition. Guys with skill sets who want to be in the ATL.

2 FOR JOHN DREW

October 13th, 2012
1:27 pm

So what’s D12 problem w/ Atlanta ? SMDH

soullrenaissance

October 13th, 2012
1:46 pm

Great move bringing in Lou. Star athletes with humility is always impressive.

soullrenaissance

October 13th, 2012
1:47 pm

D12 thinks he’s too big for ATL.

2 FOR JOHN DREW

October 13th, 2012
2:01 pm

This is the way I see it. If JSmoove, Lou, & AMorrow were such good friends w D12, good friends have influence over each other. They need to sit D12 down and make him understand what kind of opportunity they have here. Four homegrown guys playing together, already got love for one another, so all we would have to do is THINK, we could set this town on fire. We already hang out. What if we start hangin’ out watching films together, dissecting & putting together we need to do to bring respect to ourselves, our team, & to our city. Good players would come, just like they do to Miami, Boston, & L.A. ……… Oh I’m sorry I guess we’ve crossed that bridge & D12 gonna get a taste of that purple and gold kool-aid, and stay w them. I can dream still ………………

[...] Hawk Lou Williams is happy to be playing for his hometown team, writes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The point guard says he envisioned himself one day playing for his hometown team while growing [...]