Bullet camp to attract many, but probably not top draftees

July 07, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

The Washington Bullets have invited 14 rookies, free agents and former NBA players plus three roster holdovers to their three-day minicamp at Bowie State, which starts Saturday.

But it appears unlikely their two 1992 draft choices -- forward Tom Gugliotta of North Carolina State and guard Brent Price of Oklahoma -- will attend.

Gugliotta, the No. 1 pick (sixth overall), and Price (32nd) are represented by Richard Howell of Atlanta.

Bullets general manager John Nash has been particularly eager to sign Gugliotta in time for minicamp, but more importantly, before the 15-day, $17.8 million offer sheet the Knicks made to forward Harvey Grant expires July 17.

If Howell plays a waiting game, and the Bullets first match the Knicks offer to Grant, it would leave little, if any, money in the $14 million salary cap to satisfy Gugliotta, who reportedly is seeking close to $2 million a year.

"We've been holding ongoing negotiations with Nash and would like to get Gugliotta signed shortly," said Howell. "I'm a big believer in players going to rookie camp. I'm encouraged by our progress, but you never want to be too optimistic."

Howell said that he has not tried to parlay the Bullets' dilemma in re-signing Grant into a more favorable bargaining position for Gugliotta.

"We began our talks before the Grant situation evolved. I don't think it's a good idea to tie the two contract situations together."

In the past two years, Bullets draft picks attended the minicamp before signing NBA contracts. In 1990, second-round selections A.J. English and Greg Foster participated, and last year, first-round choice LaBradford Smith reported in July.

Smith, a 6-foot-3 guard from Louisville who missed training camp and the first 27 regular-season games with a severe ankle sprain, will be at this year's minicamp along with veteran guard Rex Chapman and second-year forward Larry Stewart.

"We want to see how Smith and Chapman have recovered from their physical problems," said coach Wes Unseld, "and Stewart can just use the added experience."

With a sudden shortage of proven forwards on the roster, Unseld will be taking a hard look at two players with limited NBA experience -- Tony Massenburg, the former Maryland star, and Ian Lockhart, a 1990 Tennessee graduate.

Small forward Damon Patterson, a teammate of Price's at Oklahoma who led the Sooners in scoring (20.6) last season, and Rod Sellers, a strong rebounding forward from Connecticut, are long shots.

Looking to renew NBA ties are 6-10 forward Mike Smith of Brigham Young, and 7-foot center Gary Leonard of Missouri.

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