Bullets bring in bench help with Ellison likely lost for season Ogg, Irvin signed to 10-day contracts

March 02, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

BOWIE -- Replacing starting center Pervis Ellison with journeyman Alan Ogg and adding NBA retread Byron Irvin to his depleted backcourt are not viewed as signs of progress by Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld. They are simply emergency measures to provide enough bodies for staging a full-scale scrimmage.

Ogg and Irvin were signed to 10-day contracts and will be in uniform tomorrow night when the Bullets visit the Miami Heat.

Signing a big man became necessary after Bullets orthopedist Richard Grossman determined yesterday that Ellison likely will miss the remainder of the season with a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

"There is a possibility he could be back for the last week or so," general manager John Nash said. "I hope that's the case so that we'll have a chance to evaluate his condition."

Ellison limped off the Capital Centre floor in the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Friday night. Ellison, who was voted the NBA's Most Improved Player last season, was averaging 17.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks this season.

Ellison, the first player selected in the 1989 draft, by Sacramento, missed most of his rookie season with the Kings because of foot injuries.

Ogg, 7 feet 2 and 245 pounds, was a fan favorite in Miami in his 12th-man role in 1990-91 and 1991-92, averaging 2.2 points and 1.7 rebounds.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham alum was released in training camp last fall, losing his backup spot to rookie Matt Geiger of Georgia Tech.

This season, Ogg had two 10-day trials with the Milwaukee Bucks. Heplayed in three games, averaging 2.7 points.

Ogg is expected to play a supporting role for the Bullets while Unseld juggles veteran Charles Jones and rookie Tom Gugliotta at center.

"At this point in the season, you can't expect to find any quality big men available," Unseld said.

"We scanned the CBA rosters and also considered picking up Jeff Ruland, Pat Cummings and Jawann Oldham. But we really wanted a guy who was already in playing shape, and Ogg had been with the Bucks until recently."

The delicate nature of the Bullets was dramatized at practice yesterday, when assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik was forced to fill in at guard. Rex Chapman (ankle) and Doug Overton (thumb) are expected to be sidelined for at least an additional two weeks.

Irvin, if nothing else, is somewhat familiar with the Bullets offense. A 6-foot-6 guard from Missouri, he played 33 games and averaged 5.2 points for Washington in 1990-91.

It has been a rapid decline for Irvin, who was a first-round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers in 1989. He has spent his past two seasons in the Continental Basketball Association and was averaging 24.4 points for the Fort Wayne Fury before yesterday's call from Bullets general manager John Nash.

"Wes was looking for a defensive guard, and Irvin should give us some help in the backcourt," Nash said.

The only encouraging note for Unseld yesterday was the return of starting forward Harvey Grant, who has missed four straight games with a strained right calf.

Grant, who leads the Bullets in scoring average (19.2), practiced without any apparent difficulty. He will test the leg again this morning before determining whether he will travel with the team to Miami.

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