Mike Morrison knows all about the numbers game in the National Basketball Association. The 6-foot-5 guard from Loyola College has fallen victim to it with the Phoenix Suns and Washington Bullets.
Last month, the Suns decided Morrison was expendable because of a surplus of guards and traded him to the Bullets, who released him Monday for the same reason.
"They [the Bullets] said it was a numbers game," Morrison said yesterday from his parents' home in Washington. "It was a situation where they had a lot of people for one position, and they thought it would be to my best interest to find another place."
Morrison says he is waiting to hear from the Cedar Rapid Thrillers, who have his Continental Basketball Association rights and have been in contact with his agent, David Moreway of San Diego. The CBA season will start Nov. 9. Morrison also said that Moreway had heard from a "couple of NBA teams" but that it was too early to expect to be picked up. The NBA season will begin Nov. 2.
"He told me not to worry about it," Morrison said. "Right now, we're looking at concrete plans -- trying to get into the CBA."
Morrison had hoped to make the team as a shooting guard, but from the beginning, the second-year pro knew it would be tough to beat out a veteran or second-round pick A.J. English.
"It's a business, and they had to make a business decision," said Morrison, Loyola's third all-time leading scorer with 1,697 points. "I don't feel I didn't perform to my top ability. I felt I performed well, but at the same time I can't live up to everyone's expectations."
The Bullets appear set with veteran guards Darrell Walker and Steve Colter, and English seems to be a sure bet to make the club. The fourth guard spot is being kept open for free agent Ledell Eackles, who has not signed.
The Bullets still have three other free-agent guards auditioning -- Tony Harris, Haywood Workman and Larry Robinson -- but they probably are being kept as insurance in case the team cannot reach an agreement with Eackles, heir apparent to Jeff Malone, the starting shooting guard who was dealt in the off-season.
Morrison did not prove to be the explosive scorer Bullets general manager John Nash had described when the team acquired him last month for a conditional second-round pick in 1993 (the Bullets will retain the pick). In four exhibition games, Morrison averaged 4.5 points in slightly more than 14 minutes.
"I thought he did a lot of good things all-around, but we just didn't feel he finished well on some things," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "Obviously he can shoot the ball, but he didn't do it here."
Meanwhile, Ed Sapir, the agent for Eackles said yesterday that the Bullets have not contacted him since Oct. 12.
Reportedly, the Bullets have offered Eackles $2.8 million over four years. Sapir is seeking $8 million over four.
Sapir said Eackles is willing to sign a one-year contract but the Bullets have been reluctant to offer one, perhaps because even if Eackles signs a one-year deal, he still would be a restricted free agent at the end of the 1990-91 season.
If the Bullets wanted to sign him next season, they would have to offer him a contract at least 125 percent higher than his 1990-91 salary, according to provisions of the league's current bargaining agreement.