LANDOVER -- As a rookie with the Sacramento Kings last season, Pervis Ellison gained a reputation of being injury prone.
The first player selected in the 1989 National Basketball Association draft, Ellison played in only 34 games. He missed all of the preseason recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his foot and ankle.
After being activated by the Kings, the 6-foot-10 forward suffered tendinitis in the big toe of his right foot and was sidelined for three months.
Despite this unpromising debut, the Washington Bullets gambled in June, trading veteran shooting guard Jeff Malone, the team's scoring leader, to Sacramento for Ellison. The Kings, in turn, dealt Malone to Utah for guard Bobby Hansen and center Eric Leckner.
Ellison was being groomed as the starting center for the Bullets, desperately searching for inside scoring and rebounding help.
But the former Louisville All-American was slowed by foot problems in training camp.
His bad luck continued in the exhibition schedule. He twisted his left ankle in a game against Indiana in Nova Scotia, tripping over teammate Haywoode Workman. A week later, playing against the Boston Celtics in Montreal, he reinjured the ankle in another collision with Workman.
Ellison tested his ankle before the season opener in Miami on Friday night and said he was not ready to play. He did not play in the 119-95 loss to the Heat.
After undergoing therapy, Ellison tried the ankle again last night and was again scratched from the starting lineup.
Ellison was not coach Wes Unseld's only concern. Point guard Darrell Walker, who led the Bullets in rebounding last season, played in only one preseason game due to pain in his Achilles' tendon.
Walker's absence, coupled with shooting guard Ledell Eackles' contract holdout, has caused Unseld to use rookies Workman and Larry Robinson.
The pair started against Miami and were teamed again last night against the Chicago Bulls.
"These guys are going to have to help us down the road," said Unseld, "so I want them to get as much experience as possible."
Asked about Walker, Unseld added: "Darrell still has to work himself back into shape. He missed too much time during training camp and just isn't ready to play a lot of minutes."