Medical staff clears King to practice with Bullets No date is set for his activation

January 05, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

BOWIE -- The Washington Bullets medical staff yesterday gave Bernard King clearance to begin practicing with the team, but exactly when the 36-year-old forward will be activated was uncertain.

King, a 13-year veteran who has not played an NBA game since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Sept. 6, 1991, passed his final Cybex examination yesterday afternoon. He likely will participate in his first Bullets practice at Bowie State Thursday morning.

Neither coach Wes Unseld nor general manager John Nash would speculate as to when King might be back in uniform. Before that occurs, the Bullets will have to open a spot on their roster, which is filled with 12 players with guaranteed contracts.

"He'll be activated when Wes thinks he's ready to play," said Nash, who did not anticipate that would happen in time for the Bullets' next home game against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night.

Nash also declined to speculate on who might be cut to make room for King, who averaged 28.4 points his last full season (1990-91) for the Bullets and regained All-Star status. Reserve forward Buck Johnson, who has not played in the past seven games, appears the most likely victim, along with his $550,000 contract.

"I wouldn't draw any conclusions at this point," said Nash, who has been forced to pay Greg Foster's $430,000 salary after the reserve center was waived last month to make room for starting guard Rex Chapman, returning from the injured list.

Unseld seems eager to observe King in a team scrimmage before making any assessments.

"I don't enjoy talking about 'what ifs,' " Unseld said after a practice for tonight's game in Atlanta.

Asked if the addition of King, one of the oldest players in the league, might impede the development of young Bullets forwards Tom Gugliotta (23), Harvey Grant (27), Larry Stewart (24) and Don MacLean (22), Unseld said: "The age of a player has no basis in what I'm trying to do.

"I'm trying to win games. I'm not going to be concerned about whether it's a rookie or a veteran out there as long as he's helping us to win. Heck, I'd have a whole team of choirboys if they won consistently."

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