Williams can be signed by any team

Updated: August 10, 2009, 10:10 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Veteran point guard Jason Williams became an unrestricted free agent Friday, when the NBA's other 29 teams were notified that the New York Knicks did not make a formal contract offer after obtaining exclusive negotiating rights with Williams.

Williams' agent, Dan Tobin, had said Tuesday that he anticipated talks continuing with the Knicks beyond the five business days that New York held exclusive rights, which the Knicks obtained by claiming Williams off waivers last week.

Jason Williams

Williams

The Knicks have auditoned Williams and fellow vets Jamaal Tinsley and Jerry Stackhouse as they search for proven players to fill roster holes at point guard and shooting guard. They also remain interested in Milwaukee Bucks restricted free agent Ramon Sessions.

As ESPN.com reported Tuesday, Memphis and Orlando are the other teams known to be considering signing Williams, who walked away from the game last season to spend more time with family.

Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley was a huge Williams supporter during the 33-year-old's four seasons in Memphis and is likely to back the prospect of a reunion. The Magic, meanwhile, still want to sign a veteran point guard for the bench and know all about Williams' comeback intentions after the 10-year vet spent most of his time away as an Orlando resident.

In February, Williams' request to be immediately reinstated by the NBA was denied by a vote of 24 teams to six. League bylaws state that players wishing to return from the official voluntarily retired list need unanimous approval from all 30 teams to avoid a one-year mandatory waiting period, ostensibly so the league can discourage players from backing out of signed contracts to choose a new team.

Williams becomes eligible to play in exhibition, regular-season and playoff games on the one-year anniversary of his official retirement, which is Sept. 26.

In 679 regular-season games, Williams averaged 11.4 points, 6.3 assists and 2.4 rebounds while playing for Sacramento, Memphis and Miami. He has appeared in 53 playoff games, averaging 9.8 points, 3.7 assists and 2.2 rebounds and helping the Heat win its first and only championship in 2006.

He was drafted by Sacramento in 1998 following his junior year at Florida and was named to the 1999 NBA All-Rookie Team after averaging 12.8 points and 6.0 assists. He quickly became one of the most popular players in Sacramento history, in tandem with Chris Webber.

Marc Stein is senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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