"I want to stay here (in Washington) but I'm taking a gamble, I guess. If I have a bad year, it could hurt me. But I don't expect to have a bad year."

Kevin Grevey

"I'm not worried about it. If I sign during the season, that'll be good. If I don't, it's no sweat Either way, I'll be playing basketball somewhere next year.

Tom Henderson

It would have been an easy thing to do. Just pick up a pen, sign your name and the pressure would have betn off for another three or four years.

But Kevin Grevey couldn't do it.

"They (the Bullets) wanted me to sign a new contract and it was tempting, but it was too early," Grevey said. "I told them I didn't want to do any thing until later in the season, that the time wasn't right I wanted to wait and talk some more."

So Grevey walked away from security, a nice raise and took a gamble. Although his contract runs out this season, he says he really doesn't want to become a free agent. But he also doesn't want to commit himself to a contract "until I can get into my game some more and get things in gear."

Tom Henderson already knows as much as he needs to about his back court abilities. He was a first-round draft pick and was considered good enough by the Bullets to be acquired - along with another No. 1 choice - for Truck Robinson. There are plenty of NBA teams that search for playmakers with his size and strength. He knows that too.

Like Grevey, his contract expires this season. He says the club and he "have just brushed around the edges about a new contract, but nothing has come up where I could decide whether I want to sign something or not.

"I'm not in a hurry. It doesn't affect what I'm doing now. I just go out and play ball. Even if I have a bad year, it shouldn't hurt me. I've had three good ones and that should count for something."

Getting Grevey and Henderson's signatures on a contract may prove as elusive for General Manager Bob Ferry as was that first NBA title.

Both have their reasons for postponing new commitments. Grevey is in only his second season as a guard and he still doesn't know how far he can grow in the position. Henderson, who says little about the subject, still remembers that Washington probably would have unloaded him last summer if the team had been knocked out quickly in the playoffs.

He isn't being vindictive, just cautious until he can fully grasp how this season will unfold for him and how his relations with management will develop.

"I think they (the Bullet management) have more confidence in me," he said. "I understand what Dick (Motta) wants, and he understands me better, too. Last year was an adjustment time for me. I had to really get used to his offense. Now I am. Things change with time."

With the decision to postpone signing says Grevey, comes added pressure.

"If anything, I should be playing harder than ever," he said. "If I have a good year, it would improve my leverage. But I'm sure people think that I'm out there worrying only about myself and making sure I alway look good."

When the two play as they did Wednesday night against Milwankee, their bargaining power grows. With Henderson controlling the Bullet offense and Grevey swishing 25-footers. Motta had the perfect complement for his formidable front court.

Milwaukee was befuddled by the versatility of Washington's offense. Grevey's 16 first-quarter points prevented the Bucks from sagging and Henderson's ability to ignite a running game never gave them a chance to rally from an early 20-point deficit.

"It was different for us," said Grevey. "Usually, we are depending on the inside guys to loosen it up for us. But this time, we got it going out front first and made them conselous of our shooting. Everyone was setting up plays for me and things just took off."

For the Bullets to have consistency this season, they will need a series of similar efforts from Henderson and Gervey. Tonight for example, they will travel to Rutgers to face another zone-oriented team, New Jersey, and without a fluid fast break and a perimeter shooting game, Washington could have difficulty handling the much-improved Nets.

Grevey's role as a shooter lends itself to less stability. On cold nights, he turns in more bench time than he likes. When he is hot, he prompts Motta to play him extensively.

"What I don't know right now, he said. "Is how consistent those hot night can be. I feel I have nothing but a better future ahead for me. I belong at guard and I'm going to get better at it.

"Tommy has been a guard all his life. He knows what he can do and how to play. It's different for me. Sometimes you get tempted and say. 'Why not sign a long-term contract and stop worrying?' That's what the Bullets would like.

"But until I know my potential in this position, it's hard for me to commit myself to a long contract. Some guys have done that and they wish they hadn't. If you are good enough, the ideal would be to go from year to year, getting a new contract each time.

"I don't know if I'm ready to go that far. That's the problem. I'm in the middle and I need time to work it all out."