Star players were looking to leave and no one knew who the next owner would be, or even if the team would remain in New Orleans long term.
Williams kept his focus on coaching, and has been rewarded with a four-year extension running through the 2015-16 season.
“The problems we have in the NBA are really good problems to have,” Williams said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, the day the club announced his extension. “I would have loved to have all the ducks in a row and all the other good things everybody else had in their organizations, but that just wasn’t my reality and at the same time my job hadn’t changed and my players needed me to be focused on my job.”
The new deal comes as the 40-year-old Williams heads into the final year of the first head coaching contract he signed in 2010.
The Hornets didn’t release contract terms. Williams confirmed the length of the extension, but declined to discuss his pay other than to say, “It’s more than I deserve.”
Williams took the Hornets to the playoffs his first season with a 46-36 record. Last season, the club went 21-45 after trading star Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal that helped New Orleans build for the future with the acquisition of 23-year-old shooting guard Eric Gordon and an additional first-round draft choice.
The Hornets then won the NBA’s draft lottery, selected Kentucky star Anthony Davis first overall and added Duke’s Austin Rivers with the 10th pick.
This offseason, the Hornets have traded to acquire forward Ryan Anderson from Orlando and center Robin Lopez from Phoenix.
“The Hornets have a promising future and an exciting young nucleus,” said Hornets executive vice president Mickey Loomis. “It is our opinion that Monty is the perfect coach to develop and lead this group of talent going forward.”
Loomis, also the general manager of the New Orleans Saints, was placed in his oversight position with the Hornets after Saints owner Tom Benson bought the basketball team from the NBA, ending a period of ownership uncertainty that had made it difficult for Hornets general manager Dell Demps to acquire or keep established players in free agency. Forward David West cited the lack of a long-term owner as a factor in his decision to leave New Orleans for Indiana in free agency last year.
“When he did that I kind of felt like when the older guys used to pick me to play on their team,” Williams said. “It just made me feel like they’re putting a lot of trust in me. Mr. Benson has told everybody that he’s confident in our ability as a coaching staff. I just felt really good about that.”
Williams came to the Hornets after five seasons as the assistant coach in Portland under then-head coach Nate McMillan.
Williams played in the NBA for 10 years after the New York Knicks made the former Notre Dame standout a first-round pick in 1994. His playing career also included stints with the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers.