The reigning Sixth Man of the Year had said that he was "50-50" on whether he would play in the NBA's restart because he and some other players did not want to take away from the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. They felt that playing basketball could give fans a reason to stay home and stay away from protests over social injustice.
Rivers, though, expects Williams to go to Orlando, Florida, with the Clippers on July 8.
"As far as Lou, all indications [are] that yes, he is [playing]," Rivers said on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday. "Obviously, up until we get on the plane, anything can happen. But I do expect Lou to be with us. I would be very surprised if he's not."
Rivers said that he does not believe any of his players are opting out of resuming the season at Walt Disney World Resort. For a variety of reasons from the coronavirus to continuing the fight for social justice to family and personal reasons, there have been players voicing concerns over whether to return while a few around the league have opted out of returning to play for their respective teams.
"I don't think so," Rivers said when asked if any Clippers have informed the team about opting out. "But listen, it is their choice and we support that. There are so many reasons for everybody to play but there are also very valid reasons for guys to opt out. I don't think many will. I think they are all invested in what we are trying to do. But again you don't hold it against anyone on any team. This is extraordinary times and we just have to support each other."
With some teams like the Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets experiencing positive tests for coronavirus and having to shut down their team practice facilities recently, Rivers said that there is some nervousness over just getting teams through the next week before traveling to Orlando.
"We have to do the right things," Rivers said of staying safe. "We have to wear our masks. We have to wash our hands. We have to social distance. We have to avoid the urge of joining into crowds. There's a lot of things that we can do that can slow this pandemic -- I don't think any of us know what to do to stop it, and so that's what we're all trying to do. I'm hoping, quite honestly, and it's just a hope, that when we get to the bubble, it becomes the safest place in America."
Rivers added: "I guess this is the only political statement I'll make on it: It would be great if we had national leadership, which we have zero on this. And so, unfortunately, everyone is left to do their own thing from state to state and in some places from city to city. It's absurd. But what we're going to try to do once we get to Disney is to protect each other, protect the area. But we have to get there. You know, you're almost nervous about that."
Rivers said he has had several discussions with his players individually over the social unrest around the country, and his own personal life experiences have prepared him for the difficult discussions going on with the fight for racial equality and against police brutality.
"[Former Clippers owner Donald] Sterling is just one of the small chapters in it," Rivers said of his personal experiences with racism helping him with talks with his players. "I've had my house burned down. In the time I grew up in Chicago, it was probably the most segregated city in the country. So I'm seeing this through my life. I've seen it through my father, who was a police officer, and through my grandparents who told stories about Macon, Georgia, where they grew up. This is just another chapter.
"But this seems to me to have legs, this one," Rivers added of the current movement. "I've seen too many protests that they become protests and then everybody wears a badge or wears signs and then it goes away. This is not going away this time. I really believe this ... The younger people to me are bringing back out the older people who have already protested, and this thing has life, and so we have to keep it going."
Rivers urged everyone to watch the video of George Floyd's killing in its entirety to understand why there is a need for change and why so many want to keep the protests and movement going.
"Just the brutality of it," Rivers said. "When you think that America and the world can witness a murder that was over eight minutes -- you know, in basketball terms, that's almost an entire quarter of basketball that you got to sit and just watch.
"I would challenge every American to watch it in full. Just watch it in full, and if that doesn't change you or affect you, then you have no feelings. ... It was beautiful to see people all over the world protesting. It's very similar to how we all were protesting for equal rights in South Africa, yet we have our own problem here, and now people are protesting against us. I think it's interesting how the tide has turned."