LANDOVER -- Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin sounded worried about forward John Williams, who has created his own limbo this summer.
Williams, who is considered essential to the Bullets' future success, will be trying to return from major knee surgery when training camp begins Oct. 4. But entering his fifth NBA season, the 6-foot-9, 23-year-old is taking a decidedly questionable approach to a comeback.
Reportedly, he has not lost any, or many, of the 60 or so pounds he added to his 240-pound playing weight during his enforced layoff last winter. He also has not followed the rehabilitation program prescribed by his doctors.
What's more, the Bullets haven't been able to get in touch with him in Los Angeles, where they last heard from him.
"We are working through different channels, trying to reach him," Pollin said yesterday, after the team announced the signing of second-round draft choice A.J. English, the leading scorer in Division II last year at Virginia Union.
"I've instructed everyone I've spoken to to tell him I'll come meet with him personally, if it will reinforce how important it is for me to get him on an even keel," Pollin said. "I think he'll get that message in the next 48 hours."
The Bullets stopped paying Williams' salary July 6 because he was not attending his physical therapy sessions. At that time, there was some thought Williams would file a grievance with the players union, but Pollin said that hasn't happened.
"I'm concerned for John as a human being," Pollin said. "I don't want to see him throw his career away, throw his life away. Whatever his problem is, he needs help. I think I'm prepared to help, as are a lot of his friends, if he's in trouble. And he obviously is, by his behavior."
Pollin said he has no idea what the trouble is. Asked if he feared it could be drug-related, he said no.
"I just think, for whatever reason, he is not responding and doing what he should be doing," said Pollin.
Bullets coach Wes Unseld presented a calmer approach. Unseld is trying to get his team ready to go to training camp. The rookies and free agents are due Sept. 30.
"I'm not a mind-reader," said Unseld. "I don't know why certain athletes do things certain ways -- except I was one of them. I didn't want anyone telling me what to do, how to play. Consequently, as a player, I'd do things the way I did them. Now, I trust that's John's situation.
"So I don't have a problem unless he comes into camp not ready. Then I've got a problem. But I haven't seen John Williams since Aug. 3. I don't know if he is in great shape or no shape at all."
Asked if he's concerned that Williams has been doing little training, Unseld sighed.
"What choice do I have?" he said. "I've got a lot of other players to worry about, too. I can either spend all my time worrying about one guy in a situation I have no control over or I can worry about those things I have control over."