The Raptors appear to be trying to corner the market on NBA players named Williams.
General manager Rob Babcock said yesterday he is pursuing former Duke point guard Jay Williams, who did not play the past two seasons after suffering severe nerve damage to his foot following a motorcycle accident on June 19, 2003.
Babcock watched the explosive point guard work out last week in Chicago and also had lunch with the 2002-2003 Second Team NBA All-Rookie.
"We hit it off pretty good," Babcock said.
The GM described Williams' recovery at about 85%, adding that the former Chicago Bulls star would be a valuable addition to any team if he's anywhere close to 100% healthy.
"He has made huge progress," Babcock said. "A year ago he was learning to walk again and to run, now he's back on the court."
Babcock does not believe that Williams, 22, is ready to step in and play in the NBA immediately, but he is hoping to sign him and have him at training camp, which begins Oct. 4 at Brock University in St. Catharines.
In 75 games with the Bulls, Williams made 54 starts and averaged 9.5 points per game (ninth among NBA rookies), 4.7 assists and shot 40% from the floor. He set the Bulls' career rookie record for three-point field goals with 65.
Babcock has been looking to add a solid point guard to back up and push Rafer Alston. He also signed Spanish national team point guard Jose Calderon this summer.
Williams, a free agent, already has worked out for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat, and has a few more scheduled for this week.
The Raptors, who already have Eric, Aaron and Alvin Williams on their roster, have had Jay Williams on their radar screen since last season.
Babcock also has expressed interest in signing Utah Jazz point guard Keith McLeod but said yesterday he expects the Jazz to match any offer sheet the restricted free agent signs.