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Hawks' Lou Williams cleared to practice, getting 'closer' to resuming action

Lou WilliamsLou Williams (left) averaged 14.1 points in 39 games for the Hawks last season. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images Sport)

Hawks guard Lou Williams, who suffered a torn ACL last January, has been medically cleared to practice and could return soon.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Williams is participating in full-contact drills and getting into basketball shape after rehabbing the better part of the calendar year. From the AJC:

"He is basically competing full-go now,” Budenholzer said Wednesday morning before the Hawks took on the Knicks. “I guess, in that sense, you could say he’s been cleared. He is doing everything. It’s now getting game-ready or game-comfortable. He’s played five-on-five. He is basically cleared to do everything. We’ll get him to where he feels comfortable playing in a game.”

Williams was the runner-up for the Sixth Man Award in 2011-12, averaging 14.9 points for the Sixers. That summer, he signed with the Hawks, but played only 39 games last season before sustaining the season-ending knee injury. When healthy, Williams was serving as one of Atlanta's main ball handlers and go-to-scorers, with averages of 14.1 points and 3.6 assists in a reserve role.

Despite his absence, Atlanta's offense has been surprisingly crisp this season. The Hawks rank fifth in offensive efficiency and sixth in shooting (46.7 percent).

DOLLINGER: Hawks up to No. 14 in Power Rankings

The Hawks have used the starting lineup of Al Horford, Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague for all seven games. With Williams rounding back into shape and accustomed to coming off the bench, it's reasonable to think that the starting unit will remain intact after he returns.

Budenholzer said Williams will not play Wednesday against the Knicks but that the team is actively monitoring his progress.

"He is getting closer," he said.

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