HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Atlanta Hawks suffered a major blow Saturday when they learned that Lou Williams has a torn ACL in his right knee and is out for the season.
Williams suffered the injury on Friday night in the Hawks’ 94-89 loss in Brooklyn. It was a non-contact injury, much like those suffered by Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert last April. A date for surgery has not yet been set.
The injury throws a wrinkle into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, where the Hawks are one of six teams with between 15 and 19 losses. They had a solid hold on the No. 3 seed at the start of January, but have lost seven of their last nine games and are now in serious danger of slipping down to the seven or eight spot in the next week.
Williams, signed to a three-year, $15.7 million dollar contract, was a key component coming off Atlanta’s bench, averaging 14.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. The Hawks currently rank 15th offensively, scoring just 101.2 points per 100 possessions. But they were better with Williams on the floor (102.1) than they were with him on the bench (99.9).
Williams’ injury means that rookie John Jenkins will have to step up. Jenkins is more of a shooter than a playmaker, but the Hawks do have both Jeff Teague and Devin Harris to handle the ball.