The thinning Atlanta Hawks backcourt lost another star player for the remainder of the season after the team announced that Lou Williams’ knee injury appeared more serious than initially diagnosed.
Lou Williams tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Friday’s 94-89 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. It was a non-contact injury for Lou Williams, who stole the ball and drove to the basket when his knee buckled with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter of Friday night. The Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams hobbled out of boundary behind the basket and was eventually rolled out to the locker room in a wheelchair.
The Atlanta Hawks’ initially diagnosed Lou Williams with a sprained right knee. But after a reevaluation by team doctor Michael Bernot on Saturday, the Atlanta Hawks upgraded Lou Williams’ injury status to tear to the ACL in the knee.
“We are extremely disappointed for Lou, and our thoughts and support will be with him during his recovery," Atlanta Hawks president of basketball operations and general manger Danny Ferry released in a statement. "He has been a complete professional in every sense of the word and know that approach, along with his work ethic, will serve him well in his rehabilitation."
The 26-year-old Lou Williams was Atlanta Hawks’ third-leading scorer, averaging 14.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals while logging 28.7 during his first season in Atlanta. Lou Williams was shooting .422 from the field, while shooting a career-best of .367 from the arc and.868 from the free throw line through 36 games (nine starts) this season.
Lou Williams’ knee injury adds to the Atlanta Hawks’ depleting roster which lost seven of nine following a strong start this season. Coming off the bench, Lou Williams joins other start Devin Harris and Jeff Teague to make the Atlanta Hawks’ backcourt an important position this season.
"It's certainly devastating to us to lose Lou," said Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew.
The impact of Lou Williams’ loss was especially significant considering he often played both guard positions, added Larry Drew. Moreover, Lou Williams’ ability to create spacing and make cuts projected him as a rising Sixth Man of the Year candidate. In wake of Lou Williams’ absence, Larry Drew had 31-year-old Kyle Korver starting at shooting guard against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. Rookie John Jenkins is also expected to get more playing time at the spot. Meanwhile, Larry Drew will have to rotate between Devin Harris and Jeff Teague for point guard.
The Atlanta Hawks’ backcourt has also been setback by injuries to DeShawn Stevenson, who is not cleared to appear in back-to-back games due to a sore right knee, and Anthony Morrow who is listed day-to-day with right hip and back injuries, which also kept him out for the past 12 consecutive games.
Lou Williams’ knee injury had a personal impact for the 7-year veteran who was hoping to outshine last season’s career-high average of 14.9 points per game with the Philadelphia 76ers.
"You hope for a fast and speedy recovery but you have to move on,” said Larry Drew. “This is just another test for us as a team and me as a coach."
Lou Williams is expected to give the injury a few days to relax before undergoing knee surgery after which his timetable for return will be finally available.