Williams might hope to ride CBA gig to NBA return

BOISE, Idaho -- Jayson Williams talked with the Idaho Stampede of the Continental Basketball Association, hoping a roster spot there would be the first step in a return to playing in the NBA.

Jayson Williams

The former NBA All-Star was acquitted in April of the most serious charge in the 2002 shooting death of a limousine driver at his mansion but was convicted on four counts stemming from a failed bid to conceal the shooting. He still faces retrial on a charge of reckless manslaughter. Williams, who lost his job as an NBC-TV analyst, was in Boise this week for talks with the team. "Mr. Williams looks forward to the opportunity to compete in the sport that he loves so much," his spokeswoman, Judy Smith, said Tuesday from Washington, D.C. "Interested NBA teams want to ensure that his body is completely healed and can withstand the rigors of nightly competition." Williams, who turns 37 next month, might be figuring that a comeback with a team in the southwestern corner of Idaho might shield him from a lot of attention stemming from the shooting at his 40-room mansion in New Jersey. The 6-foot-10 forward was a first-round NBA draft pick in 1990 and played nine seasons for the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 7.3 points and 7.5 rebounds. His rebounding ability earned him a spot in the 1998 NBA All-Star Game, but he retired two years later because of knee injuries. Williams has been working out with former NBA and college basketball players, and he worked out with the Cleveland Cavaliers in October. The eight-team CBA is considered a training ground for NBA hopefuls. One of the Stampede's owners is former NBA coach George Karl. Williams was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault and a weapon charge in the death of Costas "Gus" Christofi. A new trial on the reckless manslaughter charge is scheduled for March. Williams, who called the shooting an accident, will not be sentenced on the four cover-up convictions until the remaining charge is settled. Possible sentences run from probation to about five years in prison. The reckless manslaughter charge carries a possible 10-year sentence. "Mr. Williams respects the legal process and hurdles before him," Smith said. CBA director of public relations Todd Anderson said a contract between Williams and the team would have to be approved by the league by Wednesday afternoon for the player to suit up for the Stampede's home game against the Yakima Sun Kings that night. Stampede spokeswoman Amy Williams declined to comment on negotiations between the player and the team.