The return of Washington Bullets forward John Williams again has been put on hold after Williams experienced a setback last week.
Williams, sidelined since Dec. 4, 1989, when he tore the medial cruciate ligament in his right knee, had anticipated rejoining the Bullets for their home game against the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night.
But last week, the 6-foot-9 forward, who missed most of his summer rehabilitation program and all of training camp in the fall, had difficulty performing basketball drills under the supervision of coach Wes Unseld.
"There is no way of telling now when he will be back," Unseld said. "Because we played four games in five nights out west, John didn't get to engage in a full-scale scrimmage. But I had him doing drills on his own and even had him running on the beach. The knee didn't swell, but it's giving him some problems with his mobility."
The doctors have set a 265-pound playing limit for Williams, but his surgery-scarred knee now may need more rest.
The Bullets, who play host to the Orlando Magic at 1 p.m. today in a rare afternoon contest to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, also expressed concern over the condition of power forward Harvey Grant.
Grant, bothered by shin splints that irritate the bone running from his ankle to his knee, was averaging 18.8 points and 7.7 rebounds. He sat out the second half of the Bullets' 101-99 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last Wednesday night and missed all of Friday night's 123-99 loss in Portland.
But Grant received extra therapy from team trainer John Lally and scored 19 in 39 minutes Saturday night, when the Bullets lost to the Seattle SuperSonics, 111-89.
The good news is that the Bullets (16-21) have completed their work in the West, managing only two wins in nine games.
The 1-3 road trip dropped the Bullets into a tie with the New York Knicks for third place in the Atlantic Division. They have a chance to recoup with four straight home games, including Friday night against the Indiana Pacers at the Baltimore Arena.
Unseld may have to map new strategy to get Bernard King rolling again. The veteran forward, who has been the NBA's most inspirational story as he pursues the league scoring title at age 34, was held in check by Portland and Seattle the past two games. He scored 15 against the Trail Blazers, hitting six of 15 shots. He had the same field-goal statistics against the Sonics, scoring 17.
"They [Portland and Seattle] just geared their defenses to stop Bernard by doing a lot of doubling whenever he got the ball," said Unseld. "We just didn't have other people pick up the slack."
The Bullets should have more success getting their offense untracked against Orlando, which has allowed opponents more than 110 points a game.
The Magic (10-29), sixth in the Midwest Division, still is experiencing growing pains in its second year in the NBA. The play of top draft choice Dennis Scott (13.4 ppg) and playmaker Scott Skiles (7.6 assists) has been encouraging for Orlando.