Injuries can't douse Unseld fire

September 27, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

Coach Wes Unseld has signed a new contract, which reportedly will give him another three years to get the Washington Bullets pointed in the right direction.

"We worked this out a month or so ago," Unseld said yesterday. "But I've never said it was for three years."

Asked if it was for fewer years, Unseld said: "I've never said that either. In case you can't tell, I don't like talking about contracts. It's simply a private thing to me."

Bullets owner Abe Pollin could not be reached yesterday. But earlier this summer, Pollin related a funny story about a previous contract negotiation with Unseld.

It was to be the All-Star center's last season as a player and he wasn't sure he wanted to play.

"I had an idea about what I thought he was worth and Wes had an idea about what he would play for," Pollin said. "I said, 'You write what you think you're worth on a piece of paper and I'll write what I think you're worth and we'll exchange them. If we're close, we'll work it out.' "

Each wrote a figure. Pollin pushed his toward Unseld.

"Wes picked it up, read it, and promptly picked up his piece of paper, put it in his mouth and ate it," Pollin said.

Unseld laughed at the memory, too, but said these negotiations did not go like that.

He is entering his third full season as coach and has a career

record of 131-170. He took over as coach 27 games into the 1987-88 season, replacing Kevin Loughery. Unseld, who had been a Bullets vice president, was working as Loughery's

assistant, at Pollin's request, before being promoted to head coach.

"I don't feel bad about the coming season," said Unseld, whose Bullets begin training camp Tuesday, with veterans reporting Friday. "I'd like a few things to be different. I'd like a healthy Bernard King and a healthy Mark Alarie. But we'll manage."

Both King and Alarie have had arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss training camp. Also absent will be the team's No. 1 draft choice LaBradford Smith, who has a severely sprained ankle.

The Bullets have filled out the training camp roster by signing three free agents who are familiar to Maryland basketball fans: Larry Stewart, a 6-foot-8 forward from Coppin State; Cedric Lewis, a 6-9 forward from Maryland; and Kurk Lee, a 6-foot guard from Towson State, who played last season with the New Jersey Nets.

Five other players also have come to terms, among them former Maryland and Nets player Albert King.

Unseld, who reportedly signed for a raise from his $350,000 contract of a year ago, said he is enjoying his job, though it has been a tough job, given the team's middle-of-the-pack performance.

"I'm not happy with the results yet," he said. "But I think we're on the right track."

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