The Washington Bullets added to their already congested backcourt last night by obtaining injured guard Rex Chapman from the Charlotte Hornets for forward Tom Hammonds.
The trade of former first-round draft picks gives the Bullets five shooting guards -- Chapman, David Wingate, A.J. English, Ledell Eackles and 1991 first-round draft pick LaBradford Smith -- but general manager John Nash said "the up side was so great, it was significant enough to warrant the deal."
Chapman, 24, has missed the last 30 games because of a bruised left heel. He averaged 12.4 points and 4.1 assists and shot 45 percent in the Hornets' first 21 games. The expansion team's first-ever draft choice (eighth pick overall) in 1988, he is Charlotte's all-time leading scorer with 3,574 points.
Nash said he will not know when Chapman will be able to play "until we give him a physical examination. It may be a couple weeks, it may be longer."
Chapman, who has been bothered by ailments in the legs and feet since he left the University of Kentucky after his sophomore season, said he hopes to begin playing again by mid-March.
"I'm happy; it's been something I've wanted for a while," Chapman said of the trade. "I don't have any hard feelings. In a few years, no one will remember who you played for."
As Kendall Gill continued to improve at the shooting guard position for the Hornets, Chapman made it clear he was unwilling to accept a reserve role. Gill is the Hornets' leading scorer, averaging 19.9 points and shooting .458 percent from the field.
Now Chapman joins the Bullets' crowd at shooting guard. Nash would not speculate when the logjam might be relieved, but said the team probably won't trade anyone before the NBA deadline of 5 p.m. today.
"But we'll move as soon as possible in an effort to get frontcourt help through the draft and free agency," Nash said.
The acquisition of Chapman, who makes approximately $940,000, "puts us at the maximum salary cap," said Nash. "He has higher numbers, but we had some room."
Chapman has a four-year contract extension at an average of $2 million annually that starts next season. The Bullets will absorb that contract from the Hornets.
With Hammonds gone, the Bullets need help at forward.
Hammonds was the ninth pick overall by the Bullets in the 1989 draft after starring at Georgia Tech.
"All parties are happy," said Dave Twardzik, the Hornets' director of player personnel. "Rex is happy. I've talked to Hammonds and he is extremely happy about coming down here. He likes playing in this building, he likes Charlotte and he thinks this will be a good opportunity for him.
"I think Tom Hammonds is a very active guy," Twardzik said. "He plays very tough. He's a great kid and works hard."