BOWIE -- The Washington Bullets will wait until tomorrow before deciding how to make room on their 12-man roster for shooting guard Ledell Eackles.
"We're still evaluating Ledell and whether he is ready to contribute to the team," said general manager John Nash after watching Eackles practice with the team for tonight's game against the Philadelphia 76ers at The Spectrum.
Eackles, who ended his contract holdout Monday by signing a two-year deal worth $1.4 million, was placed on a five-day suspension list.
The only way the Bullets could delay reactivating the third-year guard, who is about 20 pounds overweight, is to get an extension from the National Basketball Association. Nash said such a move is unlikely.
But Eackles, who has been working out on his own twice a day and engaging in team workouts, complained yesterday of soreness in his left knee. If team doctors substantiate a knee problem, he could be placed on the five-game injured list.
"I've been going hard for four days," said Eackles. "Other than the soreness, I feel pretty good about my condition and wind. The knee is a chronic thing. I have to ice it after every game."
Eackles, expected to inherit the starting backcourt job vacated by Jeff Malone, who was traded to the Utah Jazz, would not reveal his weight. But the stocky, 6-foot-5 guard reportedly is close to 230, or 10 pounds more than the Bullets had prescribed for his playing weight.
"I believe I can play [tomorrow against the Boston Celtics] if the coach [Wes Unseld] needs me," he said. "My shot is still there. But practice situations are a lot different than game situations."
L Unseld was less optimistic in evaluating Eackles' condition.
"It's not as good as I hoped, but not as bad as I thought," Unseld said. "He still has a ways to go. If he's not in good-enough condition to play by [tomorrow], he won't even be in uniform."
The return of Eackles has made it an uneasy situation for three new Bullets guards -- Haywoode Workman, Larry Robinson and Byron Irvin -- one of whom is likely to be released to open a roster spot.
Yesterday, Nash and Unseld would not rule out the possibility that the team would cut Irvin, despite the second-year guard's guaranteed contract. "The fact that it's guaranteed is not a factor," said Nash. "We've said that all along."
Irvin, the No. 1 draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers last year, has been traded twice this season, first to the Sacramento Kings part of the Trail Blazers' deal for Danny Ainge, and then to the Bullets for Steve Colter.
The former Missouri star, slowed by an ankle injury, has played only five minutes since joining the Bullets.
"It's really premature to draw any conclusions about Byron," Nash said. "He must have shown something to be a top draft choice. But he hasn't had an opportunity to play here. Today [yesterday] was really his first full practice with the team."
While the Bullets were deciding on a roster move, 76ers management was busy yesterday trying to add two players to Philadelphia's depleted 10-man roster.
Point guard Johnny Dawkins will undergo surgery today to repair a torn knee ligament that will sideline him the remainder of the season.
Ten-year veteran Rickey Green, 36, has been serving as a stopgap in Dawkins' absence. Teaming with Hersey Hawkins in the backcourt, Green provided an offensive boost as the 76ers (4-3) won their latest two games, against the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks.
"Rickey has been helping us," said general manager Gene Shue, "but he can't be counted on to play a lot of minutes."
There also were reports that the 76ers were close to signing small forward Adrian Dantley, who bought out his contract with the Dallas Mavericks last year to become a free agent. Dantley, 34, a six-time All-Star, ranks 10th on the all-time NBA scoring list -- with 23,120 career points.
* Bullets forward John Williams, who missed training camp in a dispute over $276,000 in fines for missing rehabilitation treatment for his knee, has been transferred from the injured list to the suspended list.
"It was just to satisfy a league technicality," said Bullets spokeswoman Minerva Conrad. "It doesn't reflect on Williams in any way."
Williams will be allowed to remain on the suspended list until activated.