The Bullets have finally heard from Joe Pace, the unpredictable center who walked out of training camp Thursday without telling even his teammates why he was leaving.
Pace apparently is upset about his status on the team, which already has two capable centers, Wes Unseld and Mitch Kupchak.
Team officials are deciding what to do with Pace, now that they have determined he is safe. He could be suspended, cut, traded or reinstated, depending on how seriously they view his departure.
Pace was last seen by a teammate on Thursday morning when he drove Bo Ellis to practice at Ft. Meade and then said he had forgotten something which turned out that he didn't want to attend practice in the first place.
The whole episode has left coach Dick Motta shaking his head, since he said he tried to treat Pace "as fairly as I could. I deliberately did not give anyone else more time in practice, just so I could give Joe a fair shake."
Motta found himself with just 10 players at yesterday's practice. Kevin Grevey has blurred vision caused by a problem with a contact lens and sat out along with Tom Henderson (flu) and Phil Chenier (back).
Grevey did not play in the team's exhibition opening victory over Buffalo Saturday, which gave Bob Dandridge more playing time than expected. Dandridge responded with what Motta said was a fine performance. "He was born to play that (small forward) position. He completely shut off Billy Knight."
The Bullets also got outstanding performances from Henderson (25 points) and Kupchak (24 points, 10 of 11 from the field). Henderson and Larry Wright were able to match the quickness of Buffalo backcourt men Tiny Archibald and Randy Smith, which enabled the Bullets to keep Buffalo's running game under control.
"We would have beaten anybody that night," said Motta, who had been anxious to see his team against outside competition. "We played very, very well."
Both teams had to overcome a major obstacle. The rims in the Syracuse arena were purchased at a nearby discount store, according to what Unseld was told. They were bent twice during the game, including once when Coniel Norman blocked an attempted stuff by Gus Gerard of Buffalo.
"Everybody but Mitch was going nuts with the way the ball was bouncing off the rims," said Motta. "All it was a typical exhibition game."
The Bullets now are gearing for three exhibition games at the end of the week in New York and New Jersey. Motta expects everyone but Chenier and probably Pace to be ready.
"Phil went to see the doctor today and we hope he can start running," said Motta. "I hope he can play in some exhibitions next week if he can work back in shape this week."