The Washington Bullets' medical staff reported yesterday that the right knee of forward John Williams, who rejoined the team Thursday after a long holdout, is "85 percent to 90 percent" sound.
"That was the good news," said team owner Abe Pollin, whose personal call to Williams in Los Angeles this week convinced the player that his $276,000 in fines for missing therapy treatments would be refunded once he underwent a physical examination and resumed a rehabilitation program.
"Obviously, John is overweight," Pollin said. "But we don't believe it serves any purpose to say how much, and then begin issuing reports every time he loses a pound or 2.
"Our doctors are putting him on a special diet to get his weight down, and he will have to go through a physical regimen to get back in playing shape. He still had more tests today [yesterday], but our prime concern was his knee, and that has healed."
Williams and management said it will be at least a month before he will be able to be activated.
Pollin played a vital role in bringing back Williams but has been less successful in persuading third-year guard Ledell Eackles to end his contract dispute.
"Ledell called me himself Thursday," Pollin said. "But as I told him before, I think we've made him a very fair offer and, as far as I'm concerned, we're not changing our position."
Eackles, who had been in Washington the past two weeks hoping that a settlement would be reached to allow him to report to camp, returned home to Baton Rouge, La., yesterday, according to his agent, Ed Sapir.
The last time Sapir and Pollin talked, they discussed a possible one-year or two-year deal for the restricted free agent.
Sapir has come down significantly from his original proposal of $8 million for four years, but said the parties are still "$300,000 apart on a one-year deal."
"We've hit rock bottom as far as fair-market value," said Sapir, who reportedly is seeking $900,000 a year for Eackles, who was expected to succeed Jeff Malone as the starting shooting guard.
"Mr. Pollin can talk to Ledell all he wants, but when it comes down to finalizing negotiations, he will have to come through my office."