Jay Williams eager to get back on court with Nets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three years after a motorcycle accident nearly ended his career, Jay Williams is getting a chance to show that he belongs back in NBA.
Williams is expected to play in an NBA game for the first time since his accident when the New Jersey Nets face the Pacers in Indiana in a preseason game on Wednesday night.
"It's going to be a fun time," Williams said Tuesday after practicing with the Nets. "I really don't see the crowd. I am into the game. That's what I look forward to the most, the game and playing against new competition. I want to get my legs right. I am going to be ready for it."
Although he signed a contract with the Nets late last month, his chances of making New Jersey's roster are slim. The Nets already have the league-maximum 15 players under contract. They are looking to buy out Jeff McInnis' contract, but that still might not open a spot for Williams.
Jason Kidd is the Nets' starting point guard and Marcus Williams, the team's first-round draft pick, is expected to be his backup. Eddie House, a shooting guard who was signed as a free agent, also can play the point.
Jay Williams also has to show that he has regained the speed that made him the No. 2 pick overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2002.
Nets coach Lawrence Frank has been impressed so far.
"We weren't there when it happened, so we're seeing the spoils of the work, so to speak," Frank said. "I think it is tremendous how far he has come. It's another step in the process, and hopefully he can continue to perform at a high level and put himself in a position where he is playing in the regular season."
A former national player of the year at Duke, Williams isn't worried about his odds of making the Nets' roster.
"It doesn't matter to me. The opportunity will come about," Williams said. "I just have to take advantage of it when I can."
Williams has no idea how much playing time he will get.
"I am just here working hard every day and trying to fight through this soreness I have," he said. "I am just waiting for my opportunity. I am happy to be there."
When asked how sore he was, Williams smiled.
"There are five guys who are out [today], not me," he said.
Williams' 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.
The Bulls eventually bought out his contract for about $3 million.
Williams, who averaged 9.5 points, 4.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.15 steals in 75 games during the 2002-03 season, tried out for seven teams in the offseason before the Nets signed him to a non-guaranteed contract. It basically allowed the New Jersey native to be in camp for a tryout.
Williams grew up in nearby Plainfield, located about 20 miles from where the Nets play their home games.
"I think you just try to manage everything and play as well and as hard as you can," Frank said. "Things have a way of working out."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press