EMMITSBURG -- For the second time in three weeks, LaBradford Smith, the Washington Bullets' No. 1 draft choice from Louisville, has agreed to contract terms. Only this time, it should be official, including a new weight clause imposed by general manager John Nash, who said he will complete the deal tomorrow.
The muscular 6-foot-3 guard originally signed a four-year deal with the Bullets worth $3.36 million on Sept. 19. But this agreement was voided by Nash when he discovered that Smith had suffered an ankle injury in a Houston pickup game and was not informed by the rookie's agents, attorney James Bryant of Oklahoma City and Tony Dott of Houston.
The injury required Smith to be fitted with a cast, which will be removed by team orthopedist Steve Haas today. Smith has spent the last week at training camp as "an observer," learning Wes Unseld's new uptempo offensive system and trapping defense.
"It was never our intention to mislead the Bullets," Bryant said yesterday. "We were surprised to learn about LaBradford's injury as Nash was." Bryant said the original four-year figure of $3.36 million will remain intact, but slightly restructured. "The first year, LaBradford will now earn $545,000 instead of $620,000, but he can make up the $75,000 difference if he weighs 200 at the start of the season, Nov. 1, and maintains it in monthly checkups," said Bryant. "The weight clause will also be in effect the fourth and final year for LaBradford to earn $1 million."
The Bullets have become more sensitive about their players reporting and staying in shape after two straight years in which forward John Williams sit out training camp in a weight dispute. Guard Ledell Eackles also has had serious conditioning problems.
"We understand the Bullets' concern, but LaBradford has always been a hard worker," Bryant said.
Smith is vital to the Bullets' rebuilding plans. They traded veteran point guard Darrell Walker to the Detroit Pistons last month for future draft picks and did not re-sign guard Haywoode Workman, who is playing in Italy.