CBA star's ticket punched for Bullets Booked for Manila, Smith changes plans

February 06, 1991|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Correspondent

BOWIE -- Clinton Smith had his bags packed for a flight to Manila yesterday, equipped with a lucrative offer to play basketball for a team called Alaska in the Philippine Professional League, plus enough airline mileage credits for three round trips anywhere in the world.

"I had it all figured, down to the last mile," said Smith. "It looked like a great deal, until [general manager] John Nash of the Bullets called me Monday. I tell you, this is the most bizarre time in my life."

The injury-riddled Bullets yesterday signed Smith, a 6-foot-6 guard who was rated the CBA's premier defensive player, to a 10-day contract.

"I'm sure the Philippines offer was less of a risk. But you can never turn your back on an opportunity to play in the NBA," said Smith, who played for the Golden State Warriors in the 1986-87 season before beginning a four-year stay in the minor leagues.

Just last week, Smith, a product of Cleveland State, was an All-Star performing for the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association. Tonight in Philadelphia, he will be wearing a Washington Bullets uniform and, most likely, playing against the 76ers.

With Haywoode Workman (groin) joining Darrell Walker (knee) on the injured list, Bullets coach Wes Unseld was left without a point guard, a glaring weakness in losses to the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics last weekend.

Ledell Eackles also was missing with the flu, forcing Unseld to rely on rookie A.J. English and lightly played Byron Irvin, neither known for his playmaking skills.

At Cleveland State, Smith played in the backcourt with Ken "Mouse" McFadden on a team that made it to the 1986 National Collegiate Athletic Association quarterfinals, upsetting Indiana before losing to Navy and David Robinson.

Drafted in the fifth round by the Warriors, Smith made the team, but saw limited action.

Unseld will welcome any help he can get. At yesterday's practice, he had only five players on hand and had to use public relations director Rick Moreland, a Bullets draft pick in 1983, to play three-on-three.

NOTES: Nash has canceled plans to scout former LSU power forward Stanley Roberts, a possible 1991 lottery pick, who is performing for Zaragosa in the Spanish League. Said Nash, "I wanted to see him in the Spanish Cup, Feb. 21-22, but that is the same time as the NBA trade deadline."

Bullets tonight

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Opponent: Philadelphia 76ers

Site: The Spectrum, Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Radio: WTOP (1500 AM)

TV: Channel 20

Outlook: The Bullets placed G Haywoode Workman (groin) on the injured list and signed G Clinton Smith to a 10-day contract. Smith, a CBA All-Star for the Albany Patroons, will be in uniform tonight. F Bernard King (allergic reaction) received medical clearance to play after hyperventilating and leaving the game in Boston on Sunday. F Mark Alarie (lacerated eye) will return to action wearing goggles. F Pervis Ellison (back), G Ledell Eackles (flu) and C Charles Jones (hamstring) are listed as probable. G A.J. English has made only 10 of 39 field-goal attempts while starting the past two games. All-Star F Charles Barkley (30.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg) has returned to the 76ers lineup after missing seven games. F Armon Gilliam has averaged 17.2 points and 8.3 rebounds in 12 games with 76ers, who have won the two previous meetings with Washington.

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