With lottery over, Unseld to take reel good look at prospects

May 21, 1991|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Evening Sun Staff

Wes Unseld has got his plans for the next five weeks all mapped out. The Washington Bullets coach will be watching videos, though he won't have to run down to the nearest rental outlet to get them.

Rather, Unseld said he'll be watching film of the "eight or nine" players who may be available when the Bullets select eighth in the first round of June 26th's NBA draft.

"I could not give you a true assessment of what's out there right now," Unseld told a gathering of local media and team officials at the Baltimore Arena yesterday.

"Prior to the lottery, I pretty much had made up my mind that I wasn't going to concern myself with looking at a lot of guys that we might not have a shot at."

Considering that the Bullets drew a spot in the lower half of the NBA draft lottery, behind Charlotte, New Jersey, Sacramento, Denver, Miami, Dallas and Minnesota, Unseld's time was not wasted.

But Unseld, general manager John Nash and the rest of their staff will now spend a lot of days and more than a few evenings the next five weeks deciding just what's out there in the collegiate ranks and whether it will mesh with what they have or if they'll have to go trading.

"I look at the next five weeks as challenging for me," said Nash. "I want to be aggressive at initiating something. I'm going to try and stir up as much opportunity as possible to make a trade.

"Still, it may be that we stir up nothing but dust and end up drafting the best player available at the No. 8 position."

Neither Nash nor Unseld were willing to talk about the players they are interested in or whom they believe will be available.

But it is relatively clear that unless the Bullets put together a package of players and/or draft picks, current and future, they will have no chance at the cream of this year's draft, namely Georgetown center Dikembe Mutombo, Nevada-Las Vegas forward Larry Johnson, Georgia Tech guard Kenny Anderson and Syracuse forward Billy Owens, all of whom figure to be long gone if and when Nash selects.

And according to Nash, the "if" is quite a possibility. The former Philadelphia general manager, who is finishing his first season at the helm of the Bullets, said he is "60 percent" likely to keep the pick, meaning there is no organizational hesitance about trading the choice.

The likelihood is that the Bullets will not trade up, for the price to find a player to fill their needs -- point guard and center -- is too high.

Nash said after Sunday's lottery drawing in New York that he would be hesitant to trade the franchise's young talent for either a higher pick or other NBA talent unless "Chicago called and offered Michael Jordan. Then, we'd listen."

Yesterday, Nash said forwards Pervis Ellison and Harvey Grant probably would draw the most interest around the league in terms of trade, but the Bullets probably are building their long-term hopes around them, and would likely not trade Ellison so soon after dealing longtime Bullets guard Jeff Malone to get him.

Forwards Bernard King, John Williams and Tom Hammonds and guard Ledell Eackles might be a different matter.

However, each of them carries a negative that would lessen their trade value. Williams and Eackles have each had weight problems, and Williams is only recently making progress from a severe knee injury.

And although King was the third-leading scorer in the league last season, he will turn 35 midway through next season. Hammonds, a two-year veteran, has been slow to develop, though he showed signs of becoming a contributor late last season.

Though Nash said the Bullets will not shy away from drafting a forward if he is the best available player left, the Bullets, from their eighth perch, could find former Michigan State star Steve Smith, a 6-6 shooting guard who can play the point, available, though he may go earlier to Dallas.

They should, however, find such college luminaries as UNLV point guard Greg Anthony, who in his last two seasons led the Runnin' Rebels to a national championship and a berth in the national semifinals, as well as Temple's Mark Macon, who can play both the point and shooting guard.

Also likely to still be on the table is former Louisiana State center Stanley Roberts, who is probably the best of the remaining post men after Mutombo.

A 7-footer, Roberts left LSU after just one season and played last year in Spain. He is talented and aggressive inside, but has had weight problems, which may give the Bullets pause, given their experiences with Williams and Eackles.

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