Bullet coach Dick Motta said today that he was not seriously considering trading or benching star forward Elvin Hayes despite the player's prediction that his status on the team was about to change.
"I think this thing will blow over very quickly," Motta said about statements Hayes made following a loss at Houston on Saturday night. In that 116-105 defeat, Hayes scored only three points and missed all seven field goal attempts before fouling out after playing 20 minutes.
"It's all emotional thing and Elvin will feel differently tommorrow," Motta said. "When we beat Phoneix on Friday, and he got 15 rebounds, we shook hands afterwards."
Hayes said Saturday, "When you get out of the game like I am, and getting so much sitting time, maybe they are getting ready to send me someplace." He added that if he wasn't traded he probably would be benched.
He also criticized his lack of involvement in the offense and the way Motta was substituting for him when he got in foul trouble.
Team sources said today that Hayes was soundly criticized by Motta in the rocker room after the Houston game, the first time Motta had told off Hayes in front of teammates since taking over as coach last year.
"He was making a general criticism, but everyone knew it was meant for Elvin," said one player. Another player added that "Motta was upset about the way Elvin was sitting on the bench in the second half and complaining to him.
"He told us that he makes foul substitutions based on sound coaching decisions and that maybe some of us should re-evaluate ourselves in terms of our team duties. He was really upset."
Another player applauded Motta's outburst. "He's gone out of his way this season to treat Elvin well, although he's not playing very good. I think everyone was glad he finally told him off."
Hayes is off to a slow start. Going into tonight's game here against the Saints, he was averaging only 12 shots, 23.7 points and 41 minutes a game, a performance that earned him first-team all-NBA honors.
He also has fouled out of three of the first six games, a major reason his playing time is down. Last year, he fouled out only once in 82 games. He also is second in the league in average turnover per contest.
I have no control over his foul problems, said Motta. "I'm not substituting differently for him that I ever have when he has foul problems. I'm trying to preserve him but maybe they are calling things differently for him this year.
"Why the locker room outbursts? You try different approaches. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think the time was appropriate. I hope it straightens things out."
Today Hayes had calmed down a bit. He said he was hoping to get "more shots every time out. I think I need to score to help this team."
He said Saturday night, after the Bullets' fourth loss in six games that he had "never been out of the offense like this. When your top scorer gets only seven shots, somebody has to change things. I can't do it myself.
"When Houston's big men cut across the middle, they get the ball. I work hard to get open and I'm not getting the ball.
"Last year, I'd get four fouls in the first quarter and play the whole game. This year I get put down. I can't play that way. I've never been yanked like this in my career.
"I can't get into the flow of the game playing nine or 10 minutes ata time. In 20 minutes, you don't even get your uniform wet."
Hayes said before the season that he was willing to sacrifice points and shots if that would improve team work and help make newcomer Bob Dandridge more comforable. But he said today that he wasn't talking about such a drastic reduction.
Motta agreed that he would like to see Hayes have more shots "according to his playing time. He should be getting a shot for every two minutes he plays. We haven't changed our offense. We want a team concept, and that might mean some nights Elvin's 15 rebounds will help us win as much as if he scored 25 points.
"We're passing up little quick passes to our inside men, not just to Elvin. It's something we have to improve. But he will get his ppoints."