Howard talks are guarded secret

October 25, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

Washington Bullets general manager John Nash was back in the office yesterday, and apparently back in contact with agent David Falk as the two attempt to strike a deal with first-round pick Juwan Howard.

Bullets owner Abe Pollin last week told Nash to change his approach in the talks to get Howard signed, and the general manager -- after a weekend in Philadelphia -- skipped the team's practice at Bowie yesterday.

Was he absent because of contract talks? Nash, who had been open in his discussions about the talks until Pollin's meeting with Howard last week, wasn't saying.

"I'm hopeful," Nash said. "But other than that, I'd rather not say anything."

And neither would Falk, who remained evasive. Once again he was in his office yesterday, and once again he opted not to return phone calls to The Sun.

With a salary slot of nearly $1.4 million available, the Bullets would have to restructure the salaries of other players to satisfy Howard's request to make more in his first year than Sharone Wright ($2 million in the first year of his six-year, $18 million contract). Restructuring could benefit two other Falk clients, Calbert Cheaney and Rex Chapman.

Howard, the No. 5 pick in the NBA draft, wants a six-year, $24 million deal -- but Nash has said that he's reluctant to make a rookie the team's highest-paid player. The Bullets' offer has been for $30.7 million over 10 years.

Closed-door meeting

After yesterday's practice the team retreated to the locker room for a 15-minute, players-only meeting. Several players said it had nothing to do with a heated exchange in which Mitchell Butler, after being fouled hard, threw a punch at former UCLA teammate Don MacLean.

"There wasn't much to the meeting, we just talked about not getting used to losing," said Kevin Duckworth. The Bullets take a 1-3 preseason record into tonight's game in New York.

Miscellaneous

Chapman, weakened with a cold, sat out yesterday's practice. . . . Coach Jim Lynam is looking for Cheaney to begin asserting himself a little bit more. Cheaney totaled 12 points, five rebounds and zero assists in the two weekend losses. "You can't rely solely on your jumper," said Lynam. "Someone with his skill has to get to the foul line a little bit more." . . . The Bullets reduced their roster by two, releasing former Dunbar guard Ernest Hall and forward Harry Moore, from St. Bonaventure.

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