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"Ashamed' Williams gets earful from angry Ewing

Patrick Ewing respects Jayson Williams as a player, but when it comes to collective bargaining, he doesn't think the Nets All-Star knows the difference between escrow and escargot.

Ewing Wednesday night lashed out at Williams, who has been highly critical of the union and who two days ago called on the union to vote on the league's latest proposal in an effort to end the 6-month-old lockout.

"A lot of things he has said bother me," the Knicks center told the Daily News of New York. "I don't know what Jayson is talking about. I wish he would come to some meetings or call us when he's got a problem instead of talking to the press all the time."

Williams, saying he is "ashamed" to be an NBA player, on Tuesday joined Toronto's Kevin Willis in demanding that the union's rank and file hold a secret ballot.

On Thursday, Nets teammate Keith Van Horn also said the 19-member negotiating committee should let the league's 400-plus players vote on the owners' latest proposal.

"I definitely think we should have a vote," Van Horn said. "Even though you have 19 guys representing the players, it may not necessarily be accurate or representative of how the other guys feel."

On Wednesday night, Ewing maintained that during a Tuesday conference call with nearly 200 players, not one demanded a vote on what NBA commissioner David Stern has labeled the league's final proposal.

"We're not having a vote until we feel we have a fair deal," said Ewing, the union president. "Jayson needs to be more informed."

DEL NEGRO HEADS TO ITALY: Vinny Del Negro of the Spurs is close to signing with an Italian team in a deal that would allow him to return to the NBA if the lockout ends.

Del Negro, who has dual American-Italian nationality and played in Italy during the early '90s, is expected in Italy on Sunday to complete the move to Fortitudo Bologna of the Italian league.

The NBA has said players can play overseas during the lockout. FIBA, the governing international body, however, has refused to admit NBA players if they are bound to rejoin the NBA after the lockout. Del Negro and his Italian club have an agreement allowing him to return.


ALL-STAR GAME OFF: The league, which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, said it was unable to conduct its All-Star Game that was reportedly set for San Jose on Jan. 24. "The ABL has no intention of hosting an All-Star Game," said Gary Cavalli, the league's CEO.