Bob Dandridge has wanted to come to Washington for a long time. He knew the Bullets wanted him and would let him play the position he prefers - small forward.
"The last couple of years in Milwaukee I didn't get to do the things I like to do as a small forward," Dandridge said yesterday at the news conference officially proclaiming his joining the Bullets. "I like to run, get down court and keep moving. I'll be able to do that here."
The presence of Dandridge, who has a career average of 18.8 points a game, and general manager Bob Ferry's promise that, "We're going to be a running team and we got Bob because he is one of the best running forwards around," indicate that the Bullets may use a front line of Mitch Kupchak at center, Elvin Hayes at strong forward and Dandridge at small foward, much of the time.
The Bullets, a running team under K. C. Jones, will now apparently become a running team under Dick Motta. If that is the case, Wes Unseld and Kevin Grevey may see less playing time this year.
Where this leaves first-round draft choice Greg Ballard and Bo Ellis, both of whom played for patterned teams in college, is unclear. Both Ballard, 6-7 from Oregon, and Ellis, 6-9, from Marquette, are unsigned.
Ferry said yesterday that the Bullets were "close but not quite there" in their negotiations with the two.
Dandridge joined the Bullets despite the fact that, according to his agent, Scott Lang, "there was a better offer financially." The Bullets were one of four clubs that were offer Dandridge's services.
Eight years out of Norfolk State, Dandridge was unhappy in Milwaukee because he had become the elder stateman on a rebuilding club.
"I first heard the Bullets were interested in me three years ago," he said yesterday. "I had no desire to leave Milwaukee then because Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) was still there.
"But once he left, I ended up acting as a teacher for the young players. They never announced a rebuilding phase; they just started it."
"I wasn't able to use my all-around skills or my running skills. Rebounding became a burden. After eight years, it was time to move on. At 29, a rebuilding program isn't going to do me much good."
Dandridge announced before last season ended that he planned to become a free agent. But he found that free agentry wasn't he had expected.
"I was very discouraging," he said. "I was supposedly a free agent but I knew all along the compensation was going to be a deciding factor."
And it was. The Bullets and Bucks could not agree on what players Washington would give up to get Dandridge and the negotiations dragged on. In effect, the teams had to agree on a trade. Finally, team presidents Abe Pollin of the Bullets and Jim Fitzgerald of the Bucks reached an agreement that had the Bullets paying the Bucks about $500,000 over the next three years for Dandridge.
While the Bullets and Dandridge declined to reveal terms of the contract, it was learned that Dandridge signed a multi-year pact worth about $250,000 a year.