Hornets' Mo Williams glad to be reunited with 'best friend'
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Mo Williams is excited about his trade to Charlotte, where he has a chance to make the playoffs and reunite with his ''best friend'' and former teammate Al Jefferson.
''Our relationship goes beyond basketball,'' Williams said their 15-year friendship during a press conference Wednesday at Hornets headquarters.
Williams was acquired Tuesday from Minnesota along with Troy Daniels in exchange for Gary Neal and a 2019 second-round draft choice.
He arrived to help fill the void left by point guard Kemba Walker, who is out at least another month following knee surgery. It's unclear if Williams will start or backup Brian Roberts when the Hornets return from the All-Star break.
''I feel like he is the guy that can help us with the leadership in the locker room and some of the scoring,'' Jefferson said. ''When Kemba comes back, he will be the backup point and bring some scoring off the bench.''
Williams has developed into more of a ball distributor as his 12-year NBA career has progressed. But he proved last month he can still score, putting up 52 points against Indiana.
Williams believes he's capable of having some big games when paired again with Jefferson, his teammate when they played for the Utah Jazz.
''Al commands double teams and he is in my opinion the best low-post scorer at his position,'' Williams said. ''You have to show him attention and double-team him. If you don't double-team him, he is going to score. I think I complement his game in terms of being able to knock down that open three when they do double him.''
Hornets coach Steve Clifford said he's always been a fan of Williams' game.
''He's a good pick and roll player with good energy,'' Clifford said. ''He'll fit in well with what we do here.''
The news of the trade didn't come as much of a surprise to the 32-year-old Williams.
He knew the Timberwolves were in the midst of a youth movement, and Jefferson had tipped him off on Monday with a phone call that something might be in the works with the Hornets.
''Al was like, `It could work. It could work,''' Williams said.
Williams is three years older than Jefferson, but their relationship goes way back.
When Jefferson was in the eighth grade, his AAU coach would take him to watch Williams, then a high school junior, play in Jackson, Mississippi. The two became friends and they grew even closer when they played together with the Jazz.
Williams said he considered signing with the Hornets this past summer as a free agent, but the team chose Roberts instead.
Williams will get in three practices with his new team before the Hornets' return to the floor on Feb. 21. That will give him a chance to brush up on the play calls for a team that's eighth in the Eastern Conference at 22-30. The Timberwolves have the worst record in the Western Conference at 11-42, on the brink of elimination from playoff contention.
''I'm excited about getting that adrenaline going and playing for something,'' Williams said. ''They have a chance to be really good.''