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Monday, June 23
Updated: June 25, 3:14 PM ET
 
Bulls focusing on Jay Williams' recovery

ESPN.com news services

DEERFIELD, Ill.-- The Chicago Bulls believe Jay Williams will miss next season because of the broken pelvis and knee injuries from a motorcycle crash last week.

Jay Williams
Williams

"I would have to assume that, yes," Bulls general manager John Paxson said Monday. "That's a question for doctors and for his family to answer. But we do have to work under that assumption."

Paxson also confirmed that Williams has a fractured pelvis as well as damaged ligaments in his left knee. He would not give further details on Williams' injury or care, citing federal privacy laws.

While Paxson wouldn't discuss Williams' playing future beyond next season, a source close to Williams has told The Associated Press his injuries are severe enough to jeopardize his career.

Williams underwent a second surgical procedure on his fractured pelvis Tuesday, sources told the Chicago Tribune, and still faces several surgeries on his left knee. The No. 2 pick in last year's draft remains in intensive care at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital.

"We're a basketball team, and this is a business," Paxson said. "But all I've thought about the last three days is the fact that there's a young guy that's part of our basketball family that's laying in the hospital, uncertain about his future.

"It's not how it affects us as a group," Paxson added. "Those are things we'll deal with, but you really worry about him and how he's handling it."

Williams was riding a new sportbike he'd purchased a week earlier Thursday afternoon when it slammed into a pole on Chicago's north side. He sustained extensive injuries to his left leg and underwent surgery later that night.

The accident was so serious that the amputation of one of his legs was considered after he arrived at the hospital, according to the The New York Times.

Most NBA contracts contain a clause prohibiting players from riding motorcycles, and teammate Marcus Fizer said he'd warned Williams of the risk. But Fizer said Williams assured him that he would be fine, and that he'd ridden motorcycles in the past.

"Oftentimes, we feel like we're invincible," Fizer said. "This proves that we're not."

Williams' parents, David and Althea, have been with their only child since the accident, and Paxson, Bulls coach Bill Cartwright and trainer Fred Tedeschi visited him Friday.

"The first thing he said to me was that he was sorry, and I told him not to worry about it," Paxson said. "He's a conscientious young guy. His spirits were pretty good that day. They've gotten better each day since."

Paxson also called Williams on Saturday and Sunday. The guard is groggy because of pain medication, and sleeping a lot.

"On Saturday, he actually picked up the phone himself and talked to me, and he was feeling better," Paxson said.

But Williams has a long recovery ahead of him -- one that will affect not only him, but his team.

With a logjam at point guard, the Bulls could have dealt either him or Jamal Crawford, possibly in advance of Thursday's draft. But the accident ends any possibility of that.

The Bulls could be eligible for an injury exception to the salary cap. NBA rules allow a team that loses a player to a season-ending injury to sign a replacement player making up to 50 percent of the injured player's salary.

If the Bulls get the exception, they would have until Oct. 1 to use it.

"I know that you probably have a lot of questions in terms of what this does for us as an organization, but those are questions to be answered down the road, not today," Paxson said.

"We're still just a weekend through this process. It's far too early to say anything else about that."

Many of the Bulls are at the Berto Center for summer workouts, and Williams is foremost in their minds. Paxson and Cartwright have been keeping them updated on his condition, and Fizer said they'd like to visit him when he feels up to it.

"We lost a huge key at least for the year," Fizer said. "We'll miss him each every day. But things happen for a reason, and you can't question it."

Right now, the Bulls' only concern is for Williams and his recovery, Paxson said.

"When we think about him we think in terms of this young man who is 21 that made a mistake in terms of judgment, but that's not the issue," Paxson said. "The issue is him getting better and that's all we're focused on as an organization.

"We only are concerned with Jay getting better and we know that he's getting great care where he's at. With the support of his family and his friends, he is going to be just fine."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.




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