The Washington Bullets apparently are leaning toward picking Oregon forward Greg Ballard with their first selection in Friday's National Basketball Association draft.
The Bullets have two picks in the first round, the fourth and 17th selections overall. They acquired the fourth pick from Atlanta in the Tom Henderson-Leonard Robinson trade.
"I really like Ballard a lot," Bullet general manager Bob Ferry said, "but our minds just haven't been made up, yet. There are trade possibilities and so many other things that can happen .
"I do like Ballard, but I also like Walter Davis, Kenny Carr and Tommy LaGarde a lot, too. I haven't totally eliminated anyone, but I can't honestly say that I have a No. 1 choice right now. I just don't know."
Ferry said the 6-foot-6 Davis, from North Carolina, is a swing man capable of playing forward or guard. The 6-foot-10 LaGarde, also from North Carolina, "is a Kupchak type."
"Ballard is strictly at forward," Ferry continued, "but he is an excellent basketball player. He is a fine passer and a superb shooter. He can come in and play the pro game right away without much adjustment. He's had great coaching."
Ferry said he has done "every bit of research I could possibly do on all of the people we are considering drafting, and they all would be happy to play in Washington."
A number of developments supposedly point the Bullets in Ballard's direction.
Milwaukee, which has the first pick in the draft, already has announced it will take Indiana center Kent Benson, Kansas City, picking second, is set to take guard Otis Birdsong of Houston.
Buffalo has been trying to trade its third pick. Rumor has it that the New York Nets are set to trade Nate Archibald and Jan van Breda Kolff to Buffalo for that third pick and guard Ernie DiGregorio. The Nets would use the draft pick to take Marques Johnson of UCLA.
Ferry scoffed at that, said the Nets need a center more than anything else, and said if they acquired the third pick in the draft, they probably would go for LaGarde instead of Johnson.
The Bullets, at one time, were set to pick North Carolina State's Carr, but sources say they have run into difficulty in trying to sign Carr and are looking to Ballard instead.
Ferry would neither confirm nor deny that report.
The 6-foot-7 Carr, from De matha High School in Hyattsville, would be a Senior at State next year, but he made himself eligible for this year's draft by declaring hardship.
Most scouts agree Carr has as much potential as anyone in the draft this year. He has a fine outside shot and a deadly inside game.
Milwaukee and Los Angeles each have three first-round draft picks, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroits, Houston, Indiana, New Orleans and San Antonio are without first-round selections.
Other than Benson and LaGarde, other top centers in the draft are 7-1 Wayne (Tree) Rollins of Clemson, 7-0 Jeff Wilkins of Illinois State and 6-9 Wilson Washington, of Old Dominion.
The top guards other than Birdsong and Rickey Green of Michigan, Ray Williams of Minnesota and Mike Glenn of Southern Illinois.
In addition to Carr, Ballard, Johnson and Davis, the top forwards are Bo Ellis of Marquette, Wesley Cox of Louisville, Cedric (Cornbread) Maxwell of UNC-Charlotte and Ernie Grunfeld of Tennessee.
Grunfeld said yesterday he thought Seattle was going to pick him.
Steve Sheppard of Maryland and John Holloran of George Washington are the only local players expected to be drafted. Brad Davis of Maryland is on the hardship list, but he said he will withdraw his name before the draft.