SAN FRANCISCO, AP
A hip injury forced Jay Williams to sit out practice for a second straight day Monday, leaving him contemplating whether to withdraw from the U.S. national team.
Williams sprained his left hip flexor Saturday in a collision with teammate Andre Miller during the team’s first hard practice.
“It was horrible yesterday. I woke up thinking I’d never play basketball again, whereas I woke up today and felt a lot better,” Williams said Monday.
Williams, originally selected to Team USA as an alternate, was added to the main roster last week after Ray Allen pulled out because of a knee injury. The U.S. team did not replace Williams with another alternate.
“We’re kind of fatiguing some guys with only 12 bodies and no perimeter substitutions,” said coach George Karl, who had his team drilling against zone defenses during practice at the University of San Francisco.
Williams watched the scrimmages and shot jumpers but did not run.
Chicago general manager Jerry Krause, who drafted Williams second overall last June, said his trainer was in daily contact with USA Basketball’s trainers.
“It’s very important for him to be on that team, for him and for us, but obviously his health is the most important concern,” Krause said. “Young kids, they want to play even if they’re hurt. That kid, he’d play with a broken leg.”
Williams also injured his right groin during a Bulls mini-camp in late July, and this latest setback has left him wondering whether it might be prudent to rest for the next 1 1/2 months before NBA training camps begin. The U.S team, preparing for the World Championships in Indianapolis Aug. 29-Sept. 8, plays an exhibition against mainland China on Thursday night before moving its training camp to Portland.
Williams emphasized that he would take things day-by-day for the time being.
“The thing for me is I don’t want to go into training camp favoring an injury already,” Williams said. “You’ve got to think about it as it should be an honor to play for your country, but in the same sense I know I have 82 games ahead of me, which I’ve never experienced in my life. I got tired after 40-something games in college.”
Krause said he had not yet spoken with Williams about the injury, although Williams said he had already discussed whether to withdraw from the U.S. team with his agent, Bill Duffy.
“I say this right now,” he said of possibly withdrawing, “but then I’m one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever met. So I don’t know.”
The potential loss of Williams, the national player of the year last season for Duke, would reduce the U.S. team’s backcourt depth.
The other guards on the roster are Miller and Baron Davis at point guard and Paul Pierce and Reggie Miller at shooting guard. Davis was a replacement for Jason Kidd, who withdrew because of a groin injury.