EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jay Williams' quest to return to
the NBA some three years after a horrible motorcycle accident was
put on hold Sunday when the New Jersey Nets waived the point guard
less than two weeks before the start of the season.
"It's heartbreaking doing it regardless, and then to do it with
a guy like him," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "The one thing
to think about with him is, let's say he didn't get injured, anyone
who takes three, 3½ years off, he just needs an opportunity to
"He's a first-class kid. He's someone we're obviously all
rooting for. It just comes down to a numbers game, but we felt it
was best at this time to let him go and evaluate some other
options. What a great kid."
A former national player of the year at Duke, Williams signed a
non-guaranteed contract with the Nets just before training camp.
Even then, he knew his chances of making the team were slim. The
Nets had 15 players with guaranteed contracts. They were deep at
the point guard with Jason Kidd and rookie Marcus Williams, one of
their two first-round draft picks.
Jay Williams averaged 3.8 points and 13.2 minutes in five
preseason games. He also stayed healthy during training camp when
other players were missing days here and there with injuries.
However, it was obvious that Williams has not found the
quickness that made him an exceptional player.
"I think he's an NBA player," Frank said. "Our situation here
right now is we have 15 guaranteed contracts. He just needs an
opportunity to keep on playing. You can't make up missing 3½ years
in a month in a half. He'll be in the NBA."
The No. 2 overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2002 draft,
Williams averaged 9.5 points and 4.7 assists as a rookie.
His career appeared to end on June 19, 2003, when he crashed his
motorcycle into a light pole in Chicago, fracturing his pelvis,
tearing knee ligaments and suffering nerve damage in his left leg.
The damage was so severe, doctors thought they might have to
amputate his leg. He was hospitalized for 3½ months.