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CLIPPERS FYI

Clippers' Mo Williams must adjust to tough situation

Williams, a leader who organized workouts during lockout, went from starter to reserve with additions of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups. 'At the end of the day, the team is first,' Williams says.

January 05, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers guard Mo Williams drives past Houston guard Kyle Lowry in the first half of their game Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Clippers guard Mo Williams drives past Houston guard Kyle Lowry in the first… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

The question seemed to catch Mo Williams off guard, causing the Clippers guard to pause and ask for it to be repeated.

Was he content with his role on the team as a reserve after expecting to start this season?.

"At the end of the day, the team is first," Williams said. "That's all that really matters. I hope I answered your question."

And with that, an interview that lasted about five minutes was over.

Williams has found himself in somewhat of a precarious situation with the Clippers. He had been expecting to be the starting point guard this season. But that all changed, seemingly in a heartbeat.

First, the Clippers won the auction for point guard Chauncey Billups after the New York Knicks used the league's new amnesty waiver on the five-time All-Star.

Two days later, the Clippers acquired four-time All-Star guard Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in a blockbuster trade.

Just like that, Williams was a reserve.

"He's never going to be 100% happy with that role because he feels like he's a starter, and he is," Billups said. "He's just in a tough situation right now. He's going to stay focused, stay locked in.

"Mo is a starting point guard, no question about it. It's just a tough spot for him to be in right now."

Williams was acquired last season from the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the deal for Baron Davis.

Williams had organized the workouts during the lockout. He was viewed as one of the team's leaders.

Over his eight-year career, Williams has started 431 of 537 games.

He basically has been a starter in the NBA since his rookie season in 2003-04, when he played for the Utah Jazz.

"He'll be fine. I'm not worried about him at all," Billups said. "But it takes an adjustment period. A month ago, this was his team. It's going to be an adjustment period, but I don't worry about it. He's a mature veteran. He's been around the league. He'll be fine."

Williams, 28, is averaging 27.6 minutes per game, the sixth most on the team.

He is averaging 10.6 points, fifth best, and 4.6 assists, second best.

"Like everyone, Mo wants to play more," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "And his situation has changed since last season. Like I've said, Mo is a pro and I think Mo understands he's a big part of what we're trying to do here. And he's been a leader, been a pro. He's worked. He's gotten in games and given us great effort."

Williams is playing both guard positions — point guard and shooting guard.

At 6-1, 195 pounds, Williams gives away size and strength advantages when he has to defend shooting guards.

Williams has been forced to change his mind-set, much of it depending on the player he must defend when he first enters a game.

"It changes on the defensive end because I'm just used to guarding point guards and getting through screens," Williams said. "Now I've got to worry about post-ups, getting through floppy-sets — that's the down screen for the two. And also guarding point guards. It doesn't change for me on offense, but on defense it changes drastically."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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