The Bullets signed former Golden State Warrior Charles Johnson to a 10-day contract yesterday in an attempt to bolster their injury-depleted guard corps.
Johnson, a 6-foot, 170-pound six-year veteran, was released by the Warriors Jan. 5 after Golden State acquired Nate Williams from New Orleans. Johnson played 492 minutes this season, averaging six points a game.
Bullet fans probably best remember him as a starter in the 1975 NBA final series in which the Warriors beat Washington, 4-0. He averaged 10 points during that regular season and 12 in the playoffs.
But both his minutes per game and scoring average dropped off in the next two seasons and this year he played behind rookies Rickey Green and Ricky Marsh before being dropped.
Johnson, who was expected to join the club in time for last night's game against Detroit, will back up starters Larry Wright and Phil Walker.
Although Johnson's acquisition won't solve the Bullets' defensive problems against big guards, it will free forward Bob Dandridge from heavy duty as backup guard.
Johnson will be with the club at least until the All-Star break, a span in which the Bullets play seven games. By then, they also hope to have Tom Henderson (ankle), Kevin Grevey (hamstring) and Phil Chenier (back) off the injured list.
Johnson will replace Chenier, who is on the league injured reserve list until at least Sunday. The two played in the same backcourt at the University of California.
According to general manager Bob Ferry, Johnson was chosen over such players as Herm Gilliam and Bob Weiss because he was in shape and has played in the league this year.
"I just felt we had to get a veteran in here and maybe he would help us steal a game," said Ferry. "You can't expect him to be a major factor in the next 10 days but hopefully he will give us a few minutes a game to rest our other players.
"Charles is a scrappy type player and he knows the league and he's played against us enough to know our system a little. Whatever he can do for us will be a plus."
Ferry wouldn't rule out the possibility of more moves by the Bullets before the Feb. 1 league trading deadline. The Bullets have one more roster spot open, now that Mitch Kupchak will be sidelined for at least six weeks with torn ligaments in his thumb.
Kupchak was released yesterday from Sibley Hospital, where he underwent surgery Monday. Although he vowed to return in a couple of weeks, his hands will have to be in a cast for a month.