Bob Ferry managed to slip away for four quick days at the beach last week. He considered that a long vacation.
"With this type of job, you don't want to be away from the telephone very long," said the Bullet's general manager. "You never know what is going to happen in the league."
For Ferry, things have been in a state of flux since the season ended. He still must sign his three top draft choices, figure out what National Basketball Association free agents, if any, and also decide what to do with the batch of Bullets who are free agents.
For now, Ferry says:
He is still interested in free-agent forward Bob Dandridge, but that Washington and Milwaukee remain far apart on compensation the Bullets would pay the Bucks.
Wes Unseld and the Bullets have agreed that the veteran center should play in Washington next year, but terms of a contract - Unseld is a free agent - have not been worked out.
Bullet free-agents Mike Riordan and Leonard Gray have been told that this is not a good time for the Bullets to negotiate a contract. Ferry admitted that was a "nice way" of informing both that they probably don't figure in the team's plans next year.
He sees no major problems in signing the club's top three draft choices: Greg Ballard, Bo Ellis and Phil Walker. "Signing them is our first order of business," he said. "Once we do, then we can determine the rest of our player needs."
Ferry has one of th e smallest rosters in the NBA. Of the 13 players who were part of the squad last season, only eight seem certain to return.
The team has made contract offers to the three top draft choices and now Ferry is waiting for their agents to reply. He said he does not intend to sign any other draft pick "unless they want a make-good contract, where they'd have to make the team first to have it take effect.
"You never expect problems in signing anyone," he said. "I don't think negotiations with anyone will be as long as they were last summer (with Mitch Kupchak)."
Ferry said the Bullets's position in the Dandridge negotiations has not changed substantially since the draft. Milwaukee sources maintain that if the Bullets wanted to give up Unseld as compensation, Dandridge would be a Bullet today. Bullet officials heatedly deny that.
First of all, Wes is a free agent and we couldn't give him as compensation," said a Bullet source. "But I think the Bucks considered whether they wanted to pay a backup center the type of salary Wes commands ($200,000)."
Dandridge, who is living in Richmond, said he hangup between the clubs is money. "The Bucks need money to sign Marques Johnson and Ernie Grunfeld," he said. "I understand the Bullets aren't willing to come with enough money to satisfy them."
Ferry said the compensation problem has to be solved before the Bullets would consider signing Dandridge, who reportedly is seeking a $300,000-per-year contract. "The last thing we want is to have the commissioner decide what compensation we should give the Bucks," Ferry said.
Dandridge said his representatives also are talking to other NBA clubs. Although he refused to name them, those teams are Houston, Cleveland and Golden State, which just lost forward Jamaal Wilkes to Los Angeles.
"I expect to sign with someone in a few weeks," said Dandridge. "At first, I hoped that team would be Washington. Now I don't care. I just want to get this thing worked out."
As for unhappy Bullet guard Bing Ferry said he still hadn't talked with him about next year. "I know Dave wants more minutes, but I'm not in a position to promise things like that yet," he said. "A lot depends on if we sign our draft choices.
"There are only so many minutes in a game. If you want to keep three guards sharp, you have to play them a lot. That doesn't leave many minutes for the rest of the guards."