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NBA notes: Jayson Williams gets 5 years in fatal shooting

Jayson Williams
Jayson Williams
Matt Rainey, Associated Press

SOMERVILLE, N.J. — Former NBA star Jayson Williams was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for fatally shooting a hired limo driver in 2002, ending an eight-year legal odyssey by tearfully apologizing to the victim's family. He will be eligible for parole in 18 months.

Williams, avoiding a retrial on a reckless manslaughter count that deadlocked the jury at his 2004 trial, pleaded guilty last month to aggravated assault in the death of Costas Christofi on Feb. 14, 2002. At the same 2004 trial, he was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter but convicted on four counts of covering up the shooting.

The sentences on the assault and cover-up counts will run concurrently. State Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman went along with a plea agreement that spelled out the five-year prison sentence and the potential for Williams to be released as early as summer 2011.

In court Tuesday, a tearful Williams turned and apologized to Andrea Adams, Christofi's sister, saying, "There's not a day I wake up that I don't feel sorry for what I did to Mr. Christofi and that I put you through this."

Adams wrote in a letter read by a court employee that the punishment "didn't fit the crime" and spoke of "eight years of agony watching Jayson Williams prance around and live his life and acting like nothing happened."

Williams, who turned 42 on Monday, played nine seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets before a leg injury forced him to retire in 2000. He was in the second year of a six-year, $86 million contract.

WIZARDS' HOWARD OUT FOR SEASON: The Washington Wizards said Tuesday that forward Josh Howard will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Howard was injured Monday night in Washington's win over the Chicago Bulls, only his fourth game with the Wizards since being acquired from Dallas in a seven-player trade on Feb. 13. He collided with the Bulls' Flip Murray with 4:23 to play in the first quarter and stayed on the floor for a minute before being helped off the court by two trainers.

Howard started three games for Washington and scored 14.5 points a game to help the Wizards go 3-1 since the deal, which sent starter Caron Butler to the Mavericks.

Howard has averaged 15.3 points and 6.0 rebounds since his 2003-04 rookie season with the Mavs.

No decision has been announced on whether Howard would have surgery.

BLAZERS' CAMBY INJURES ANKLE: Recently acquired center Marcus Camby sprained his right ankle in the first quarter of the Portland Trail Blazers game against the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.

Camby was hurt when Nets center Brook Lopez appeared to step on his ankle as both waited for a rebound.

The Trail Blazers listed Camby's return as questionable.

Camby was acquired on Feb. 16 from the Los Angeles Clippers for Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw and cash considerations.

Portland centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla have already been lost for the season with injuries.

AILING PIERCE MISSES CELTICS' GAME: Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce was not with the team for the game on Tuesday night against the New York Knicks due to the flu and a sore right thumb.

Pierce injured his thumb on Thursday in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

After hurting it in Los Angeles, Pierce shot a combined 5-for-19 from the floor in games Friday and Sunday against Portland and Denver.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Pierce could have played through the illness, but not the sore thumb, so he told Pierce to stay home.