John Williams won't turn up on tonight's edition of the Fox network's "America's Most Wanted" show, and if things continue the way they're going, he won't be on the Washington Bullets' most wanted list for long.
Bullets owner Abe Pollin entered the Williams flap yesterday, issuing a statement that called on the four-year veteran forward to return to Washington, where all would be forgiven.
"At this time, it is not clear what John's hesitation is about returning," said Pollin. "The Bullets will continue to stay in touch with John and attempt to convince him that it is in his best interest and that of the Bullets to return."
Said general manager John Nash, "We'd like to be supportive of John medically and emotionally. But we'd like to see a sustained commitment on his part."
Williams, who is recovering from major knee surgery after an injury sustained early last season, has missed the first two weeks of the Bullets' training camp for reasons that are unclear to everyone in the organization, from Pollin to Nash to coach Wes Unseld.
"There has been some talking [between Williams and the team], but I really don't know when he's coming back," said Unseld.
Amid reports that Williams' weight had risen to 300 pounds, 65 above his listed playing weight, the Bullets stopped paying his salary in July when they learned he was not following the rehabilitation program prescribed by team doctors and his own doctors.
The Bullets finally reached Williams by phone at his Los Angeles home a week ago Thursday and asked him to return to Washington. The team continued to talk to Williams and his agent, Fred Slaughter, through Tuesday. But no move has been made by Williams to come east.
Slaughter did not return calls to his answering machine. Unseld said he had last seen Williams in Los Angeles in August, and said he was in no shape to play.
Yesterday, Unseld said the Bullets are planning for the regular-season opener at Miami in two weeks as if Williams will not be with the team.
"We reached that assumption a long time ago," said Unseld. "It's not one that I relish, but we had to come to that realization."