Bullets' minicamp opens today Free agents face longer odds this year

July 15, 1991|By Alan Goldstein

This time a year ago, the Washington Bullets, looking for help at all positions, had 30 players attending their rookie/free-agent camp.

As things developed, free-agent guards Haywoode Workman and Larry Robinson not only won roster spots, but also began the regular season as the starting backcourt.

But the odds seemingly will be much greater for the free agents attending this year's three-day minicamp beginning today at Bowie State.

The camp roster has been trimmed to 14 players, including five Bullets veterans and the No. 1 draft pick, guard LaBradford Smith of Louisville, who is reporting without a contract while the Bullets maneuver to find room in their salary cap.

"I don't know anything about odds," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "When a team wins only 31 games, there are no long shots in camp. We'll take a hard look at everyone here."

Unseld not only will be getting his first close look at Smith, but also will be able to test him against three of his holdover guards -- Workman, Robinson and A.J. English. Workman and Robinson have been offered conditional contracts.

The two other veterans in camp are forward Tom Hammonds, the No. 1 draft choice in 1989 who has struggled in his first two NBA seasons, and second-year center Greg Foster, who displayed flashes of promise as a lightly played rookie.

"We've had both Hammonds and Foster working on specific parts of their game in the off-season," Unseld said.

"With Hammonds, we're trying to make him more of a finesse player, improving his ability to put the ball on the floor. Foster has been trying to improve his post-up game in Mel Daniels' big-man's camp."

Three of the free agents -- center Greg Butler and forwards Shelton Jones and Brian Rowsom -- have played briefly in the NBA. General manager John Nash said they deserved another look.

Of the newcomers, the three who will draw the most attention are forward-center Cedric Lewis of Maryland, forward Larry Stewart of Coppin State and shooting guard Anderson Hunt, who played for Nevada-Las Vegas' NCAA Final Four teams the past two seasons.

"I don't know if Lewis will make our team, but I'm certain he will be playing pro basketball somewhere this season," said Nash. ++ "He led the country in blocked shots last year and is an excellent rebounder."

Stewart was more of an offensive threat in college, averaging 23.9 points to go with his 13.4 rebounds his senior season at Coppin State. He was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's outstanding player.

Hunt was the only member of UNLV's starting five who was not selected in the 1991 NBA draft after choosing to leave school after his junior year. The oversight was attributed to a minor injury that caused his performance to suffer in the June pro tryout camp in Chicago.

"Anderson deserved to be drafted," said Nash. "His size [6 feet 1] and the fact that he never played point guard caused everyone to be concerned. But we had him and [N.C. State's] Rodney Monroe rated the two best shooting guards in the country."

Hunt's chances could improve if the Bullets, after the recent acquisition of point guard Michael Adams from the Denver Nuggets and the drafting of Smith, decide to trade veteran guards Darrell Walker or Ledell Eackles.

Walker has voiced displeasure at not having his contract extended and recently asked to be traded.

In Eackles' case, the Bullets have grown impatient with the development of the third-year veteran from New Orleans. He missed training camp last October in a contract dispute and ultimately reported to work in poor physical condition.

When the minicamp concludes Wednesday afternoon, Unseld will choose a squad to participate in a round-robin tournament with the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., beginning Thursday.

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