When Lou Williams was a prep star at South Gwinnett High School, just outside of Atlanta, he would attend Atlanta Hawks practices. He called them “business” trips, as he watched to see what NBA workouts were like before he decided on whether to attend Georgia or bolt to the league.
When he elected to forgo college, he hoped the Atlanta Hawks would select him near the end of the first round. However, general manager Billy Knight passed, citing weaknesses in Williams size, strength and game—and selected Salim Stoudamire, who had starred at Arizona.
Williams was disappointed when he fell to the second round to the Philadelphia 76ers, the 45th pick. Stoudamire bombed and has long been out of the NBA, while Williams’ career has progressively grown. And now it has come full circle. The outstanding reserve guard for the 76ers agreed to a free agent deal with the Hawks (Knight is long gone, too), a three-year deal worth about $15 million.
When negotiations with the 76ers stalled, Williams opted out of the final year of his contract with Philadelphia, which was to pay him $5.4 million in 2012-13.
“Happy to be apart of a team that’s similar to the Sixers…Young, athletic, and hardworking,” Williams wrote on his Twitter feed Tuesday evening.
The deal can become official today, as the NBA’s moratorium on most transactions has been lifted.
Williams, 25, finished second to Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden in voting for the 2011-12 NBA Sixth Man Award. Williams can play point guard and shooting guard and led the Sixers in scoring last season with 14.9 points in 26.3 minutes per game. He also played most of the key, late-game minutes for Philadelphia.
Williams figures to fill a similar bench-scoring role with the Hawks. Once Atlanta completes the trades involving Johnson and Williams and secures a buyout of Jordan Farmar, the team will have five guards on the roster in addition to Williams: Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, John Jenkins and DeShawn Stevenson.