Ellison to begin season on injured list Will have knees retested in 2 weeks Bullets notebook

November 02, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

Up until yesterday afternoon, there was still a chance that Pervis Ellison would be in a Washington Bullets uniform when the season opens Friday, still a chance that coach Wes Unseld could begin working with the front line he has looked forward to meshing together.

But after an examination with Dr. Steve Haas yesterday, the news about Ellison was not good -- the 6-foot-10 forward has not adequately recovered from off-season surgery on both knees, and thus will start the season on the injured list. He will sit out at least five games.

"He's able to work pain free, but he still doesn't have sufficient strength in his legs to be cleared for practice," Bullets vice president John Nash said. "He won't be tested for another two weeks. It's not likely he'll gain that strength any sooner than that."

When Ellison reported at the start of camp Oct. 7, he said he was "about 45 percent" following the surgery on May 11. The Bullets had envisioned a front line of Ellison at power forward, Kevin Duckworth at center and Tom Gugliotta at small forward.

"Disappointed? A little bit," Unseld said yesterday. "But it's not something that I didn't expect. We did a lot of wishful thinking."

With Ellison out, Gugliotta and Don MacLean probably will split time at power forward with rookie Calbert Cheaney getting the start at small forward. Even if Ellison is medically cleared in two weeks, it will take him some time to get adjusted after missing all of camp.

"He's been working hard the last few weeks. His aerobic conditioning should be good, but you just never know until he's on the court," Nash said of Ellison. "We don't want to take any chance of rushing him back. When that happens, you open the door for a setback."

Blanks released

Having completed their preseason, the Bullets began trimming their roster yesterday with the release of Lance Blanks.

A former first-round pick of the Detroit Pistons in 1990 (26th pick overall), Blanks averaged 4.7 points while playing sparingly (73 minutes total). The 6-4 shooting guard played two years with the Pistons, before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he made his only two pro starts last season.

"It's a bit of a shame," Nash said yesterday. "He played very well. But at that position we felt we had other people who were as good or better."

Only three free agents remain in camp: Tito Horford, Kenny Walker and Mitchell Butler. With Ellison and Larry Stewart starting the season on the injured list, at least one of the three likely will make the roster.

Visa woes, by Gheorghe

There's a slight chance that Gheorghe Muresan may start the season on the suspended list, pending whether the 7-7 Romanian gets clearance from immigration officials.

Muresan, already out after chickenpox was diagnosed over the weekend, has yet to get the necessary classification from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"We made application shortly after we were aware that Gheorghe intended to play with us," Nash said. "But there is a time factor. Had we known in July, in likelihood we would have had it by now. You can't hire someone without this authorization -- it's a federal law."

Lynda Zengle, an attorney who is representing the Bullets on the matter, said she is hopeful that the immigration clearance will take place this week.

'So-so' Smith returns

Guard LaBradford Smith, who separated his right shoulder Oct. 16, returned to practice yesterday.

Smith, who missed seven preseason games, has been cleared to practice but has yet to be cleared to play.

"It feels so-so," a fatigued Smith said after practice. "The whole time I was lifting, exercising, running and doing the StairMaster. But it's just not the same."

Unseld said the team will wait to see how Smith reacts to the injury before clearing him to play.

"I don't want to make a move until I'm sure he's ready to go," he said.

Smith, a little more optimistic, said: "I don't want to start the season on the injured list."

Also playing with pain is point guard Michael Adams, who sat out yesterday's practice after breaking a bone in the joint of his left ring finger in Saturday's game against Chicago. But the injury, which is not on the shooting hand, is not expected to keep Adams out of the lineup.

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