Bullet forward Bob Dandridge has decided he will join the team's training camp Monday, ending a three-week holdout over contract problems.
Dandridge, who said earlier this week that he would be in uniform "for some NBA team" by opening night next Friday, said yesterday that a couple of conversations over the last two days with owner Abe Pollin paved the way for his return.
But Dandridge admitted that the reason he did not report to camp originally - his desire to add more "future security" to his three-year, $250,000-a-year contract - has not been satisfied.
"I think this is a compromise between two rigid stances," said Dandridge. "We haven't agreed about anything concerning my contract and they really haven't changed their mind about altering it.
"But they are now willing to sit down and talk. That's important to me. I think once they listen to what I have to say, they will be surprised. It's really not that major.
"At my age (almost 31), however, you have to worry about what's ahead down the road. I don't really want more money now. But I'm trying to make sure I have ways to earn money when I retire."
Although neither side has spelled out what exactly Dandridge is seeking, it apparently involves some sort of guarantee of future offcourt employment, such as with the team or through financial backing in a business.
The holdout, which began Sept. 15 when Dandridge reported for a team meeting at the club's Fort Meade training site and then left before opening practice, will cost him $3,200 in fines by Monday.
He said he picked that day to return "because it makes the most sense. Exhibition season will be over and there won't be any pressure on me to go out and play well immediately in a game. I can now gradually work my way in without risking an injury.
"Do I expect to start right away? No, it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the players. I haven't put in my training-camp dues like they have. I expect them to come at me and push me by playing hard. I'll benefit by it.
"I've been running and playing but I'm about two weeks behind. Fifty percent of conditions is mental, anyway, so it might take me a month for me to be where I want to be."
Pollin said yesterday he was "delighted" Dandridge was returning. "They asked me, 'What should he do,' and I told them, 'Come back to camp.' They wanted to know if I would talk to him. I told them yes, that I didn't think there should be any bitterness over this and that I always will talk to my players."
But Pollin said that there has been no policy change regarding renegotiation of contracts. "It still stands. We don't renegotiate," he said.
"I feel better about things now," Dandridge said. "I didn't get what I wanted, but I see some progress. Now it's time to play basketball. I want to see if I can help them do what no team has done in 10 years: win two straight titles."
Dandrige and his attorney, Scott Lang, are convinced that the player's worth to the club was increased by his performance last season especially in the playoffs when he was its steadiest performer en route to the NBA title. He average 21 points per game in the playoffs after averaging 19 in the regular season.
This week's contract with Pollin was initiated by Lang. The two talked Tuesday, then again Wednesday. "I was impressed with the fact that they were friendly, helpful calls," said Dandridge, echoing Lang's feelings.
"Once there was some flexibility on both sides, I decided to come back," said Dandridge. "It wasn't helping things the way they were going. I wasn't getting into shape, nor was I helping my value or image.
"I don't expect this to happen again. And once I go in, I don't expect to have to leave again. Mr. Pollin is a man of his word and he says we will talk, so I know we will."