In an era when a Redskins' seventh-round draft choice holds out for more money and pro basketball free agents aren't satisfied with $200,000 annual income, Kevin Grevey of the Bullets has made a surprising appraisal of his ability.
"I'm expendable," Grevey admitted. "I know I'm not a superstar. I realize that. I'd like to stay here, but they are running a business. What may be the best for the Bullets may not be best for Kevin Grevey."
Grevey had been one of the major victims of the massive player personnel turnover the last two seasons. A part-time starter last year, he entered training camp facing the possibility of playing behind newcomer Bob Dandridge and rookie Greg Ballard at small forward. It was a role that promised few playing minutes, as Mike Riordan found out last season, and threatened to make him a candidate or a trade.
But Grevey is trying his best to force the Bullets to keep him. He came into training camp in excellent condition and has hustled since the opening minute of the workouts. Now his efforts may be starting to pay dividends.
With Phil Chenier still ailing, coach Dick Motta is giving Grevey, who has been a part-time starter at small forward his previous two years with the team, a chance to show his prowess at guard.
If Grevey can handle that role well enough, he may be the guard-forward swing man Motta would like to have around on his roster.
"With 11 men this year, you either keep five pure guards or five pure forwards," said Motta. "Either one of the guards or one of the forwards has to be able to swing to another position. Otherwise you are leaving yourself really thin. Besides, Chenier may be out for who knows how long. We have to be ready just in case.
"I've maintained that one of these days, Kevin will be a good NBA third guard. From now on, he is going to spend half his time at forward and half at guard. I told him that this isn't a putdown for him. Instead, it's good for him."
Chenier is not ready to start practicing. He said yesterday his sore lower back, which he strained in a pic-up game two weeks ago, finally is beginning to respond to treatment. But he wasn't sure how much longer he would be out.
Neither was team physician Dr. Stanford Lavine, who examined Chenier yesterday and said there was some improvement in his condition. But Lavine said he was not sure how soon Chenier would be healed.
Grevey won't make Bullets fans forget Chenier but he is the type of streak shooter who can rip off points in a hurry.
"My value to this team is my ability to hit from the outside," he said. "Either guard or forward, it doesn't matter, as long as I can get that 20 footer.
"When did I last play guard? In the third grade. Otherwise, the only thing I've guarded is the water cooler at the end of the bench."
Grevey has alternated between starting and occupying that bench seat since coming to the team as a first-round draft choice from Kentucky.
"I've have my chances at solidfying the small forward spot," said Grevey. "Last year, it was the weakest place on the team. Now that we've added Bob Dandridge and Greg Ballard, it may be the strongest, epthwise.
"I thought about asking them how I was going to fit in this year. But I didn't. I'm not the type who makes demands.
"I think I can help them. The rest of the forwards like to get their points inside. I'm the one guy who can go outside and hit from thee. It would give us more balance.
"I want to help.If that means being a substitute, I can handle it. But if I'm not going to help, then I want to get out of here."
Grevey is shooting in practice with the consistency he once displayed in college. "He is really looking good," said Motta, still shaking his head over how a four-man team comprising of Grevey, Phi Walker, Joe Pae and Ballard ran off 16 straight back and a weekend practice game.
"None of them were missing anything," said Motta. "Kevin was putting them in from everywhere."
It's all a after of confidence, according to Grevez.
"Now I know I can play the game with these guys," he explained. "That's half the battle.
"Besides, I'm healthy. Last year, I played the entire season with a bone spur in my foot. Sometimes it really hurt. Now they've fitted me with a special insert in my shoe and it has eased the discomfort almost entirely.
"It's allowed me to go out and concentrate on my playing. I've come out here to play good defense, get good shots and hustle. I've got to believe what I do here will speak louder than any demands I can make."
The Bullets have measured center Mitch Kupchak in his tennis shoes. Result: he is 6-foot-11 1/2 and probably still growing.
Last year the Bullets listed him as 6-foot-9. The most dangerous part of any Bullet practice session, besides Kupachak's wild dives for loose balls, is the Ft. Meade floor. It is oily and slipppery and Motta is fearful a player is going to seriously injure himself during a workout.
Bob Dandridge's twisted ankle has healed sufficiently to allow him to again practice with the team.