Bullets' Price to have surgery Point guard to miss at least half season as foot pain persists

Pack is only consolation

Lynam looks for more offense from Muresan

November 08, 1995|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

Reaching the point where the pain in his left foot is showing no signs of subsiding, Washington Bullets point guard Mark Price will have surgery on Friday in a procedure that could cost him half the season and possibly more.

Price has plantar fascitis, an inflammation of the tissue that runs from the heel to the toe. The injury caused him to miss three games last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

During the summer, Price rested the foot and had no problems. But after the first day of training camp when he was impressive in two sessions, Price complained of pain and hasn't practiced with his new teammates since. According to Bullets general manager John Nash, Price won't be expected back until after the All-Star break.

The news was no surprise to Bullets coach Jim Lynam.

"In my mind, just listening to Mark, I was kind of resigned from early on that this was going to be a problem," he said. "Each time I talked to Mark, I could just tell. He was kind of resigned also."

After the first day of training camp, the Bullets announced that Price would rest his foot for three weeks and would return for the season opener. But after leaving the Bullets midway through their six-game road trip during the final week of the preseason, it looked more and more like the injury was going to keep Price away from opening day -- and beyond.

Last week Price, who came to the Bullets in exchange for a first-round draft pick, said he was "not real optimistic" he would return anytime soon, and said he was considering the surgery. He recently spoke to Minnesota Timberwolves guard Micheal Williams, who returned this season after having surgery on a similar injury. Williams played in just three games last season.

"I've tried to familiarize myself with the situation as much as possible," Price said. "Any time you're talking about surgery, it doesn't thrill you."

Making the loss of Price more bearable for the Bullets has been the play of newcomer Robert Pack. Pack has averaged 19 points in three games, giving the Bullets a combination of quickness and scoring from the point guard position that had been lacking before Price's arrival.

Pack's quickness provided problems for the Orlando Magic on Monday as he helped Washington to a 13-point third-quarter lead. But the Bullets collapsed in the final period, scoring only 11 points -- at one point missing 11 straight shots -- to lose, 105-95.

"Eleven points is not going to get it done," Lynam said. "We had chances, we had open looks and we missed some shots."

The Bullets would like to get more offense from center Gheorghe Muresan, who scored nine points against the Magic. Through three games, Muresan is averaging eight points and 7.3 rebounds, compared to 10.0 and 6.7 last year. But Muresan also has had trouble with fouls -- against Orlando he played just 17 minutes because of five personals.

Players and coaches have been warned that they will be fined for criticizing the replacement officials, so Lynam and Muresan refrained from doing so. But it's clear that the two-man crews have gone whistle-crazy on the court.

"I would like to see the old officials," Muresan said of the officials who are being locked out in a salary dispute.

Asked whether the speed of Pack has had any effect on Muresan's role, Lynam said no.

"We don't look for [Muresan] to be involved in the open floor," Lynam added. "But when we get it to him in the half-court, he has to do a better job against the trap. He probably should shoot the ball more directly, instead of waiting for the double team all the time."

NOTE: The opening night starting five of Muresan, Pack, Juwan Howard, Calbert Cheaney and Rasheed Wallace averaged 23.4 years of age, making it the youngest in the league, according to the Bullets. . . . The Sports Boosters will hold a banquet on Nov. 16 at Martin's West to pay tribute to the great Baltimore Bullets of the past. Call (410) 561-0065.

Bullets tonight

Opponent: Charlotte Hornets

Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: HTS/WWLG (1360 AM), WTEM (570 AM)

Outlook: This is the new-look Hornets team, having traded C Alonzo Mourning to the Miami Heat last week. The three players who came over in the deal -- C Matt Geiger, G/F Glen Rice and G Khalid Reeves -- were in the Charlotte starting lineup Saturday night. The Hornets (2-1) are still led by F Larry Johnson, who scored 22 in last night's 108-96 win over Detroit. G Muggsy Bogues (knee surgery) is on the injured list. Washington (1-2) won just one of four games against Charlotte last season.

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