David Wingate's return to the National Basketball Association this season hit a dead end yesterday.
The San Antonio Spurs announced that Wingate would have to clear all legal hurdles stemming from two rape cases before they would consider re-signing him. The Spurs' announcement came two days after a Howard County Circuit Court judge postponed Wingate's second-degree rape trial until August.
"Our position from last September, when the pending civil and criminal charges became known, has not changed," Spurs owner Red McCombs said in a statement. "We all agreed that David would not play for the Spurs until all charges were dropped or dismissed, or until he is found innocent of said charges."
Wingate and his legal representatives could not be reached for comment.
Monday, Howard County Circuit Court Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. postponed Wingate's scheduled April 1 trial for second-degree rape to Aug. 5 after the defense attorney indicated the Spurs would rehire the former Dunbar High School and Georgetown guard if he could play the remainder of the season.
A 17-year-old Baltimore girl claims she was raped Sept. 16 at Wingate's Columbia apartment. A 22-year-old San Antonio woman filed a civil suit after claiming she was raped by Wingate. Although Wingate's Maryland attorney, Philip H. Armstrong, said the Texas case has been settled, it remains scheduled for March.
Wingate, the Spurs' top reserve guard last season, was on the verge of signing a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract when the charges were filed in September. He remains an unrestricted free agent, although it is unlikely any other team will sign him.
"We appreciate David's contributions to the Spurs last season, and we have sympathy for him and all others connected to serious allegations," McCombs said.
The owner added that the team would continue its search for another guard to complete its 12-man roster.