In a pair of related personnel moves, the Washington Bullets decided to wait at least an additional week before assessing guard Rex Chapman's chances of playing again this season and chose not to re-sign forward Derek Strong, who completed his 10-day trial in Milwaukee on Sunday.
Strong was filling the roster spot left vacant by Chapman, who has not performed for the Bullets since being acquired from the Charlotte Hornets on Feb. 19 for forward Tom Hammonds.
Chapman has been sidelined for the past two months with a strained planter fascia under his left heel that has not responded to treatment or rest.
The former University of Kentucky star, who quit school after his sophomore year in 1988 to become the No. 1 draft pick of the expansion Hornets, has spent the past week in Louisville undergoing examination by Dr. Raymond Shea, orthopedist for the University of Louisville football team. A Louisville podiatrist also is testing Chapman's heel.
"We wanted to give Rex another week before determining if he can play before the end of the season," said Bullets general manager John Nash.
"He may require surgery. If that is the case, we want him to feel comfortable by having consulted his personal physicians, in addition to our own team doctors."
Chapman, 25, has viewed heel surgery as a final solution. But he has been discouraged by his foot's slow progress in light workouts. He has yet to participate in a Bullets scrimmage.
The Bullets have not pressed the issue, announcing from the time of the trade that Chapman's acquisition was with an eye to the future.
Strong, a 1990 Xavier graduate who had spent most of the season in limbo on the Philadelphia 76ers' suspended list after twice underdoing arthroscopic knee surgery, signed with the Bullets on March 13.
But the 6-foot-8 forward, who had a reputation as a strong rebounder, sat out four games before getting three points and five rebounds in 12 minutes in the Bullets' 109-88 loss to the Bucks.
"He really didn't get enough chance to practice with the team," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "He did some good things on his own Sunday, but he really didn't have an idea as to what we were trying to do."
Nash said it is conceivable that the Bullets would re-sign Strong before the season ends, but added: "We might want to take a look at several other players who are playing in the CBA now. Nothing is definite at this point."
After getting bullied on the boards by Moses Malone and the Bucks, Unseld probably would like to audition anyone with rebounding potential. One possibility is forward Tony Massenburg, the former Maryland star, who has been cut by several NBA teams since being drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 1990.
The Bullets (22-47), who have lost five straight and seven of their past eight, entertain the Indiana Pacers tomorrow night. Indiana (34-36) is one of six Eastern Conference teams competing for the final two playoff berths.