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Williams, Cassell Status Unresolved

April 21, 1998

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ All-star center Jayson Williams’ playing status and starting guard Sam Cassell’s role remained unresolved as the New Jersey Nets opened final preparations Tuesday for their Eastern Conference playoff series against the two-time defending champion Chicago Bulls.

Williams returned to practice and survived a scare when teammate David Vaughn accidentally hit the center’s injured right thumb.

Cassell, who sat out Sunday’s game with a groin strain, did not practice and may be used off the bench when New Jersey meets the Bulls in Friday night’s series opener at Chicago.

Williams, who missed the last 11 regular season games after breaking his thumb March 27, took part in a limited workout. The center reported no problems following a 90-minute morning session and insists he will play Friday.

``I’m playing,″ Williams said. ``It’s over. There’s no doubt.″

However, team officials continued to take a cautious approach. Nets coach John Calipari said he would review the situation with team physician Dr. Charles Melone before making a final determination.

``If he’s able to play, he will,″ Calipari said. ``If he’s not, he won’t. I’m not going to throw away the organization’s future for a weekend.″

Cassell will likely try to practice on Wednesday.

``I’m not fine, but I’ll be fine,″ Cassell said. ``I don’t think anybody in the league right now is 100 percent.″

Calipari said Cassell probably would not start if the guard ``can’t go the next day or two.″

Center Rony Seikaly, who has been slowed by a bone contusion in his right foot, practiced Tuesday and could be available for limited playing time Friday.

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