New Jazz point guard Williams not afraid to talk
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)
Mo Williams leaned over and made sure the young one knew what to expect.
Only in this case, he wasn't offering guidance to one of his youthful Utah Jazz teammates, he was talking to his fifth son, still in the womb and due on Feb. 1.
''I'm not missing any games,'' Williams said of conversations he's had when his wife tells him their unborn child is kicking and can hear him. ''I already talked to (him) and we agreed it's going to be on the All-Star break.
''Obviously, I'll have to buy him a better car when he's 16. All my other kids get something like I had, a Ford Taurus or something. But it's a good deal.''
The Jazz certainly are hoping the one they made for Williams is good as well and provides them with an upgrade over point guard Devin Harris.
One thing is already clear even if the Jazz are just a few days into preseason: Williams is a talker.
''He's not afraid to express himself, let people know how he feels,'' said Paul Millsap, the team's elder statesman and the only player remaining from Utah's 2010 playoff run. ''That's good. That's a good trait to have at the point guard position.''
Williams' journey back to Salt Lake City already has been well-documented.
The Jazz drafted him No. 47 overall in 2003 and, in what personnel guru Kevin O'Connor still calls ''my worst mistake,'' allowed Williams to leave for Milwaukee after just one season.
In late June, the Jazz got their man back, acquiring Williams in a multi-team deal that also sent Lamar Odom to the Clippers. Williams makes his preseason home debut Friday night against Oklahoma City.
O'Connor cited Williams' toughness, aggressiveness and work ethic and said he was a capable scorer, shooter and could provide leadership to a group that features four talented players 22 or younger in Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.
Williams is confident he can be all of the above.
''It's just a little more learning the guys and chemistry, and obviously I'm still learning what they want because I want to be an extension of them. I want to be that coach on the court,'' he said.
There's no question Williams is a different person from the one who arrived in 2003 with a single suitcase after being bypassed in the first round.
''As a rookie, I was just happy to get five minutes a game,'' he said. ''I was happy to be in the NBA. Now it's trying to win a championship, and my overall goal is when I see these young guys out there, to try to help them.''
Last year in Los Angeles, however, hardly went the way Williams envisioned, and it hurt when the Clippers replaced him with not one but possibly two Hall of Fame point guards in Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups.
When he did play, he played angry but channeled it into something positive.
''It was tough at first on the bench,'' he said. ''But overall it helped me become a better leader. ... I took it as whatever is in front of me, I'm going to make the best out of it. I think for the most part I did.''
He would go on to lead the Clippers in 3-point shooting (.389) and played well enough to finish eighth in the Sixth Man Award voting.
Fellow guard Randy Foye said knowing Williams had been traded to Utah is one reason he decided to sign as a free agent, having played with him in L.A.
And big man Al Jefferson, 27, has known Williams since their prep days in Mississippi, when Williams was a senior at a bigger school.
''I thought he was the best player in the world,'' Jefferson of Williams, who turns 30 in December.
How they mesh now will go a long way in determining Utah's success on the court.
In the preseason opener, Williams scored Utah's first seven points and dished out six assists, but he also had four turnovers as he and his teammates started getting used to each other's style.
''He's learning what I'm asking from the ... leaders on this team,'' said Corbin, who took time to get to know Williams on the golf course this summer. ''He's a talker, and it will help us going forward.''
The Williams' boys already know that, even the one kicking up a fuss inside.
''When he's kicking, then I get down there and have a conversation with him,'' Williams said. ''I have to tell him first, `It's daddy' ... so he knows my voice, so when he comes out he already knows who to be scared of, who runs this.
''I don't want to scare him too much. I don't want him to stay in there too long.''
Of course, Williams is flashing a wide smile as he talks about his family, and his charismatic personality on and off the court.
Backup point guard Earl Watson already likes it.
''I think he brings a swagger to our team,'' Watson said. ''He's definitely a great outside shooter and plays with a ton of confidence. He plays the game with a lot of fire. He's somebody I can feed off just watching him. It's going to be fun.''