EMMITSBURG -- General manager John Nash sat at a table along the sideline in the Mount St. Mary's Memorial Gym yesterday, looking over the rookies and free agents who reported for the first day of Washington Bullets practice.
"Under the circumstances this is as good a group as I could have anticipated," Nash said. "Someone in this group will make our team, maybe more than one. We've got a backcourt opening and a frontcourt opening."
Among those who are here are former Towson State guard Kurk Lee and former University of Maryland center/forward Cedric Lewis. Each believes Bullets camp is the best place he could be.
"It's been a different kind of experience," said Lewis, who was signed after impressing the coaches during the summer. "I went to three different summer camps with Boston, Milwaukee and the Bullets and decided this was the best place. I think I can contribute. I think there is an opportunity here. All I want to do is work hard, make an impression and hope they like me."
Lewis said he learned a lot in a short time in summer camps. For instance, he knows he needs to be stronger and has added 5 pounds to his 6-foot-9 frame to weigh in at 240.
"I've had to re-learn shot-blocking and I've had to do a lot more pushing than I ever had to do in college," Lewis said. "I think I've made some adjustments and I think I can help by rebounding, blocking out and scoring inside."
Lee, who made it as a free agent with the New Jersey Nets last season and played in 48 games, found himself a free agent after the Nets drafted Georgia Tech guard Kenny Anderson last spring.
"I know I can play against these guys," Lee said. "Last year, I didn't know anything. It was like having my eyes closed, I knew so little. But it's a little better feeling this year. In the Nets' training camp, I went into a situation where they already had guaranteed guard positions to Tate George, their No. 1 pick, Mookie Blaylock and Lester Conner.
"Here, there is an opening and they're talking about a little bit of a new style in which the point guard pushes the ball up the court. I can do that. All I have to do is convince [coach] Wes Unseld I can do it every day. I have to show him I can be consistent, that when he puts me in a game, he knows what he's going to get every time."
Lee probably has a better chance at making the roster than Lewis. The Bullets already have Charles Jones, Pervis Ellison, Harvey Grant, John Williams, Tom Hammonds and a developing Greg Foster, enough to get by even without Bernard King and Mark Alarie, who are recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.
The guard situation is a little different. Michael Adams comes in to take the place of stalwart Darrell Walker, who was traded. Second-year players A.J. English and Larry Robinson are still developing, and Ledell Eackles could shift to the small forward spot, leaving room for another guard or even two.
Unseld wouldn't commit, saying, "I need help in a lot of areas -- scoring, defense, rebounding. I hope I find it here, because we need it."
Veterans aren't scheduled to report until Friday, but Hammonds and Grant are already here -- a sign Nash found encouraging.
"Friday will be a revelation of sorts," Nash said. "It will be the first time any of us will see John [Williams] and Ledell. There is no use speculating on their condition, but I know John has been working out with Magic [Johnson] and that group at the Westwood Rec Center. So I know he's getting ready. That's way ahead of where we were last season."
A year ago, Williams went through an emotional summer and reported at more than 300 pounds. Eackles also reported overweight after holding out. Neither player was effective but both have the potential to play leading roles.