Kevin Grevey and Larry Wright were in the starting lineup at the Bullets' practice yesterday and indications point to their starting tonignt's game against the Bulls in Chicago (830, WTOP-1500).
Rookie Wright would replace veteran Dave Bing as the team's playmaker while Grevey, in his second season, would take over the small forward spot from Leonard Robinson.
There have been hints since the season's start that Wright would eventually take over for Bing. But the switch from Robinson to Grevey comes as a surprise. The 6-foot-5 forward from Kentucky has not played that much this season and when he has been called on hasn't been particularly impressive (3.5 point average).
Bullets' coach Dick Motta said he was "experimenting" with a lineup of Grevey, Wright, Phil Chenier, Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. He added that he "would probably go" with that lineup tonight.
"Bernie (assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff) and I have a lot of talking to do about it. If we do make the change, it isn't out of panic," Motta said. "I may have gone about as long as I can with things the way they are."
The move is being made because Motta believes the team needs to run more than it has. Wright is the team's quickest guard; Grevey is a shooter.
Robinson, who has started every game this season, played only 10 minutes in Wednesday's 99-85 loss to Chicago at Capital Center. He made only one of four shots and got one rebound. He played 13 minutes, scored four points and had one rebound in the previous game.
"I really don't mind," Robinson said of his apparent demotion. "The only thing that hurts me is that I worked hard to get where I am. I'll accept the blame when I do wrong, but don't make the scapegoat just because things are going bad. I should be the last one on the floor he (Motta) can blame."
Robinson said he figured Motta would replace him with Leonard Gray, "but I see now he probably wanted to go with Grevey all along.
"I don's think Dick has ever appreciated me. I don't even talk to him anymore. There's nothing to say."
Robinson is the Bullets' third-leading scorer and their third-leading rebounder. On defense, he has been matched against such stars as Julius Erving and Rick Barry. Usually he has held his own.
He is averaging 16.3 points and shooting 48 per cent. He also is averaging 9.1 rebounds in 32.5 minutes a game.
The last four games have been like a nightmare, however. Until the Phoenix Suns game Jan. 7, he had 15 consecutive times scored double figures and was one of the more consistent Bullets. In the last four games, though, he has averaged 21 minutes and made only seven of 25 shots. He also has made only four of his last 13 free throws and grabbed 22 rebounds.
Robinson spent most of yesterday's practice as the third small forward - behind both Grevey and Gray.
"When a guy all of a sudden stops being played, that usually means he's going to be traded," Robinson said. "That's fine with me. If the Bulltes don't want to use my services, then let me go somewhere else.
"They don't run plays for me or anything and yet I get blamed for not scoring or not rebounding. That's all right, but they are poor excuses for what's going on. They won't call any plays for me, but they call them for Grevey when he comes in the game and he's only shooting 39 per cent."
Grevey is in a hot seat. The small forward spot is the most difficult position to play on the Bulltes.
"It takes a certain type of person to play over there," Robinson said. "I just want to sit back and see who can do what I did there night after night."
Grevey is ready to give it a try.
"We have so much talent on this team that you just have to be patient to find your place," Grevey said.
About 10 days ago, Grevey was a backup guard and , as he says, the sixth or seventh forward. But as Motta bacame dissatisfied with Robinson and the Bullets' sluggish offense, he started thinking about Grevey.
Grevey has been playing less than 10 minutes a game. "I've waited long enough for my chance," Grevey added. "I know other guys are waiting just like I did so you have to go all out when you get the chance.
"Motta doesn't jerk you out after a mistake or something, so I'm sure he's going to give a fair chance."
Motta refuses to criticize Robinson beyond simply saying, "He wasn't doing much." He did indicate, however, that where Robinson had played himself out of the lineup, Wright had played himself in.
Wright has moved better than Bing lately. It's also obvious that Bing cannot do the things he once could.
Bing had been primarily a scorer his entire career, but when he came to the Bullets he was asked to become the playmaker. He never has adjusted to that role.
Tonight's game will be Motta's first at Chicago Stadium as coach of the Bullets after coaching the Bulls for eight seasons.
"It'll be difficult for me there," he said. "If we had won Wednesday it might have been easier."