Lou Williams joins Atlanta Hawks after pondering retirement

ATLANTA — Distraught that he’s sold out, Lou Williams has seriously considered resigning.

In the end, the 16-year NBA veteran decided he wanted to play for his hometown team.

Williams joined the Atlanta Hawks for Tuesday night’s game in Phoenix against the Suns, nearly a week after he was snatched up by the LA Clippers at the trade deadline for zone guard Rondo.

After four seasons in Los Angeles, Williams admitted he was shocked by the Clippers’ decision to part with him.

It hurts, he said in a video conference with reporters. I had a lot of investments there. We’ve had some success. We were preparing for another long-distance race, the championship. That was my mentality. I thought I’d end the season there.

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After thinking about it, Williams decided not to retire. He says he believes he can help the young Hawks get their first playoff berth since 2017.

I still feel like I can play at a high level, the combo back said. I feel like I can help the team in some ways. I don’t want to look back and say I retired early and wonder what could have been or what I could have done. It’s a chance to finish the season with this team and go from there.

The Hawks came into the game against the Suns with nine of 12 wins, which led to confusion in the tight Eastern Conference when Lloyd Pierce was fired and Nate McMillan took over as interim coach.

They’re counting on Williams to score extra points from the bench, a role the Sixth Man of the Year winner has already played three times in his long career. In 42 appearances for the Clippers, he had an average of 12.1 points per game.

Williams doesn’t want to be on the field right away for the Hawks, a team he played for for two seasons almost a decade ago. It is, of course, a brand new band led by budding stars Trey Young and John Collins.

Williams had just met most of his new teammates, so he wanted to play in at least one game and observe their style and rotations from the bench.

I want to understand how they play, he said. I wanted to see their game, feel their rotation, understand how this group of guys fit together, to see where I would fit in. It wouldn’t be fair to this group to fire me like that.

The Hawks have completed their longest road trip of the season, an eight-game, two-week journey primarily on the West Coast. Williams will get his first chance to play in front of his home crowd on Sunday when Golden State plays Atlanta.

Williams grew up in suburban Atlanta and made a name for himself at South Gwinnett High School. The 34-year-old still lives in the city and is looking forward to adding to his legacy a second time with the Hawks.

He said it would take me a few days to get here. From the moment I arrived, I wanted the energy to be positive, I wanted the experience to be positive. I didn’t want the boys to look at me like I didn’t want to be there.

It’s not personal against the Hawks, Williams added. I just needed time to figure out what was best for me at this point in my career. Now that I’m here, I feel accepted. Looks like the boys want me there. I’m ready to take that step and move forward.

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