Former Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams isn’t holding back on the organization.
Williams spent three-plus seasons in Atlanta across two separate stints, most recently from 2020-21 through 2021-22. Asked if being in Atlanta helped with his transition into retirement following the 2021-22 campaign, Williams was brutally honest.
“Nah. S***, I think that’s what buried me,” Williams said on “Podcast P with Paul George” on November 13. “Because it’s just this complacency when you at the crib. When you already at home, it’s like I was done. I kept telling them, I was like, ‘Man, y’all can count my days.’ I was literally counting the days down because I knew. I was like, ‘Man, I’m too comfortable at home.’
Williams helped the Hawks reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020-21, and grew close with Trae Young, even appearing on the most recent episode of the Hawks star’s podcast.
The veteran Williams explained a lack of playing time in the final season led to his retirement.
Williams – one of two players in NBA history to win Sixth Max of the Year – had gone from 21 minutes per game with the Hawks who acquired him from the Los Angeles Clippers in 2020-21 to 14 minutes per game in 2021-22.
“I think they should they should have sent me somewhere else,” Williams said on George’s podcast. “Because it’s just this complacency when you at the crib. When you already at home, it’s like I was done. I kept telling them, I was like, ‘Man, y’all can count my days.’ I was literally counting the days down because I knew. I was like, ‘Man, I’m too comfortable at home.’
“I feel like if I play out in another market or another city, it give me that chip where I got to kind of keep grinding. When I’m at the crib I got too many comforts around me. So I think that I knew that was the beginning of the end when they sent me to Atlanta. I knew that from the jump.”
Williams averaged 10.0 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.1 rebounds in his first season (second stint) with the Hawks.
He dropped to 6.3 points, 1.9 assists, and 1.6 rebounds in the second season.
Lou Williams ‘still had something to give’ Hawks
“It was kind of like, I don’t want to say embarrassed. Because I felt at that point in my career, my city knew who I was – I was established. You know what I’m saying? I was certified. But I just, I wanted to contribute. I felt like I still had something to give to the game I still had something to give to that team.”
What Williams said next echoes sentiments made by former Hawks wing Kevin Huerter about the success of that 2020-21 season speeding up the group’s timeline leading to expectations they were not ready to meet.
“I felt like they were already in a position that they had invested so much in some young guys and it wasn’t really a need for the Sixth-Man job on that team,” Williams said.
“Even when I played well, nothing changed for me,” Williams said. “I won us basketball games, won us playoff games and nothing really changed in what I was doing for that basketball team. And so that was kind of weird for me: being in front of my peers, being in front of my city, being in front of my family, my friends, people that enjoy me, that love me, and just not being able to give them that show that I was so accustomed to giving them.”
As harsh as the reality of his final two seasons was, Williams’ retelling was a glimpse into the future for all professional athletes.
“It’s going to happen,” Williams said. “Nobody is safe from it unless you just go off in the sunset – win a championship, and you’re like, ‘I’m done with it,’ all of us are going to limp out of the game. We’re competitive at nature, bro. We never know when enough is enough.”