Retired NBA star Jayson Williams will remain free after a judge yesterday rejected a prosecutor's request to revoke his bail and send him to prison for covering up the shooting of a hired driver more than 7 years ago.

Prosecutors in Somerville, N.J., asked the judge to reconsider the sentencing delay due to Williams' recent run-ins with the law, saying he has become "unpredictable."

In April, police used a stun gun on Williams during an altercation in a New York hotel room, and in May he was arrested in North Carolina and charged with assault for allegedly punching someone in a barroom dispute. Earlier this year, his wife filed divorce papers claiming he was abusive and had a drug problem.

But State Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman noted that Williams hasn't been convicted of anything since his 2004 trial and continues to appear in court.

"It doesn't make sense to me, frankly, to move ahead with the sentencing," Coleman said. He also denied prosecutors' request to increase bail from the original $250,000.

Williams' attorney, Joseph Hayden, said his client didn't start the bar fight, didn't hurt anyone at the hotel, and is not a threat to the public.

Williams played nine seasons in the NBA with the Sixers and Nets before retiring in 2000.


* Developer Bruce Ratner, owner of the New Jersey Nets, will get a 22-year delay on paying the full $100 million for the right to build a new arena in Brooklyn under a deal made public yesterday. Ratner will pay the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $20 million up front and another $80 million in installments under the plan, which the full MTA board will vote tomorrow. He had originally agreed to pay the MTA $100 million upon closing for development rights to rail yards it owns. *