On Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers and Lou Williams agreed to terms on a three-year, $21 million deal. Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy caught up with Williams. Here is the full Q&A:
Basketball Insiders: How did this deal come together? When did the Lakers start showing interest in you?
Lou Williams: “Well, they were one of the first teams to reach out to me once free agency began and they just started to touch base with us. At that point, we weren’t sure what direction we were heading in because we wanted to see if [returning to] Toronto was going to work out. Then, yesterday, the talks got a little bit more serious and it just looked like a good opportunity for me to take. It really only took, like, five minutes to get done once we entered serious talks.”
Basketball Insiders: You’ve played with a lot of great players throughout your career and now you get to team up with Kobe Bryant.
Lou Williams: “It’ll be fun. It’ll be an amazing experience. A lot of guys don’t get the chance to play with one of the best players in the world. I’m excited, especially with him playing the same position that I play, so hopefully I’ll be able to learn from him. I’m looking forward to just being around him. Greatness is contagious. For him, at 36 years old, to be able to still compete at a high level and have success in his career, you have to respect that. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up some things from him.”
Basketball Insiders: I know that being a Laker can be crazy. Ramon Sessions once told me he got chased through a hotel by fans. That Laker Nation fan base is passionate. Have you already experienced that a little bit since it was announced that you would be joining the team?
Lou Williams: “Yeah (laughs). Laker Nation is a real thing! It’s real, man. I got a ton of new followers and my social media stuff has been going crazy for the past day now. Laker Nation has been welcoming me, saying they’re excited, things of that nature. I’m really looking forward to being part of that culture. It’s also an honor to be a part of the rich tradition they have in Los Angeles. To be a part of that, it’s going to be something special for me.”
Basketball Insiders: They just added you and they’re also acquiring guys like Roy Hibbert and Brandon Bass. How good can this Lakers team be next year?
Lou Williams: “We just have to see how we can put everything together. We’ll see the final product once we’re going into training camp. I appreciate the fact that they are making moves and they are trying to become a competitive playoff team again. They’re trying to get back to the winning that they’ve always had. I’m really looking forward to my future there.”
Basketball Insiders: You mentioned the final product, do you think more moves are still to come?
Lou Williams: “We honestly didn’t get into that. We didn’t have those conversations yet. There was mutual interest, we didn’t play games and we just got the deal done quickly. Now, I’m looking [at the rumors] just like everybody else is looking. I’ll be traveling to Los Angeles later this week and I’m sure we’ll have more conversations then about where the organization is going. Then, we’ll see what happens from there.”
Basketball Insiders: This is a great opportunity for you, but you’re also leaving a situation in Toronto where you were successful, won Sixth Man of the Year and got name-dropped in Drake songs (laughs). Was it tough to move on from the Raptors and leave that organization?
Lou Williams: “Just to speak candidly, it caught me by surprise that we didn’t get something done. I made it clear that I wanted to be there and I thought, with the type of year that I had, the feeling would be mutual. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. I think they wanted to go in a different direction and become more of a defensive-minded team. With the way that the playoffs ended, I think it left a sour taste in management’s mouth and they went out and picked up defensive players. They got DeMarre [Carroll], they got Cory Joseph, they got [Bismack] Biyombo – guys who they feel like can help them on the defensive end. They told me, basically, that I could walk. That was unfortunate, but it’ll work out for both sides. They got a guy who is from Toronto, Canada who will replace me in Cory and now I have an opportunity to continue my career as well, so it worked out for everybody.”
Basketball Insiders: So just to be clear, they didn’t make you an offer?
Lou Williams: “No.”
Basketball Insiders: You’re known for coming off of the bench and providing that spark. Do you think you can repeat as Sixth Man of the Year and defend your title in Los Angeles?
Lou Williams: “Absolutely. I look forward to it. That’s become something that is part of my career and it’s a role that I’ve learned to love over the years. If you’re going to be a Sixth Man, if you’re going to come off of the bench, you want to be the best one to do it.”
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