Bullets' McRae to play in Turkey Barcelona, Athens pursuing Muresan PRO BASKETBALL

August 18, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

After the Washington Bullets' selection of Gheorghe Muresan and Conrad McRae in the second round of the NBA draft in June, general manager John Nash said that guaranteed contracts and salary restrictions made it likely that both big men would be playing professionally in Europe this summer.

Nash's prediction began to take shape this week.

McRae, a 6-foot-10 center-forward from Syracuse, signed with Fenerbahcc Spor Kulubu of Istanbul, Turkey, The Washington Post reported yesterday. McRae's agent,Mitch Frankel, of Boca Raton, Fla., said the contract was worth more than $350,000, or almost double the minimum rookie contract of $200,000 proffered by the Bullets to maintain their rights.

"It's just unfortunate that Conrad had a back problem in rookie camp and couldn't show the Bullets his athleticism and potential," said Frankel.

Muresan, a 7-foot-7 Romanian who played for Pao Orthez in France last season, was in Greece yesterday entertaining offers from AEK in Athens.

Considered a long-range prospect, Muresan also is being wooed by Barcelona, which proposed a two-year deal. He would not be required to play in Spain until the 1994-95 season.

Barcelona's team doctors believe that Muresan has not fully recovered from pituitary surgery he underwent in June, and would not be ready for the coming season.

But Muresan's agent, Kenneth Grant of Paris, prefers having him play in Europe only one more season before auditioning for the NBA.

"There is still a slim chance that Muresan won't sign in Europe, come to our training camp in October, and convince us to make a roster spot for him," said Nash.

But Nash said both second-round selections would benefit by playing regularly in Europe rather than filling a bench role for Washington. And then, there is the question of money, with the capped-out Bullets able to offer only the minimum salary to McRae and Muresan.

"We went into the draft not expecting to have room for any of our rookies except [lottery choice] Calbert Cheaney," said Nash. "That's why we traded our 36th pick on the second round to New Jersey."

McRae, whose eligibility problems limited his playing time at Syracuse, attended the Bullets' minicamp at Bowie State in July. He failed to impress coach Wes Unseld with his rebounding or shot-blocking skills.

"I told McRae's agent that he should pursue opportunities in Europe," said Nash. "Hopefully, his game will improve and he will have a better opportunity with us next year."

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