LOS ANGELES -- The Utah Jazz have been in Southern California all week so Mo Williams has already been back to Staples Center and by all his old haunts as the Jazz played exhibition games against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday and Tuesday.
But Wednesday marked the first time the charismatic point guard faced off against the Los Angeles Clippers since they traded him to Utah in a four-team deal that brought Lamar Odom back to L.A., and Williams was feeling a little nostalgic before the game as former teammates and Clippers staffers came by to catch up.
"I still talk to all the guys here," Williams said before the game. "You always want to feel like you were a part of something, like you helped build something. But at the same time, these guys are still really good."
Which is pretty much why Williams says he has no hard feelings toward the Clippers for trading him. Yes, he would've loved to stay and be the team leader the organization envisioned when they acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers in February 2011. But once the Clippers traded for Chris Paul and claimed Chauncey Billups off waivers before last season, it became obvious to all involved that there wasn't really room for Williams here anymore.
He made the best of it for a year, coming off the bench and becoming a spark plug for the second unit. He made sure he acted like a professional and set a good example for the Clippers' young players about handling adversity. But Williams is a starting point guard and at some point, something had to give.
"There's no hard feelings at all. I'm in a great place, a great situation, I'm happy," Williams said of his trade to the Jazz, where he began his NBA career in 2003-04. "It feels good to be back. There's still a lot of the same people in the organization from when I was there. Different teammates, but the people in the organization are the same."
The biggest difference though is the player Williams became. He came to the Jazz as a second-round pick trying to prove he belonged in the NBA. He returned as an All-Star with a long track record.
"Going back to Utah was a little different this time," he said. "I had my family with me this time. Before it was just me. So that's an adjustment. But everyone there has been great to me. The community has been great. It's been a smooth transition."