Although some Bullet officials fear Mitch Kupchak may need surgery to correct his current back problems, the team physician said yesterday the possibility of an operation right now is remote.

Kupchak, who is not expected to play again in the playoffs, is currently in Sibley Hospital undergoing treatments and extensive examinations in order to determine what is causing spasms in his lower back.

"Back spasms are caused by something," said Dr. Stanford Lavine. "They are a protective mechanism, a reaction. We are trying to determine what is wrong, whether it is a disk problem or ligaments or whatever. Surgery can't be ruled out, but it is remote right now. First, we have to get to the cause."

Kupchak has been in the hospital since last Sunday, after he played in the second game of the Eastern Conference championship series against San Antonio. The back spasm problems began in late March against Cleveland, when he was shoved in the back on a rebound.

After his junior year at the University of North Carolina, Kupchak underwent surgery to correct a defective disk in his lower back.

While at Sibley, he has been examined by a neurosurgeon and is scheduled to undergo special X-ray examinations. He still has discomfort in his back, although Lavine said the treatments, including traction, have reduced the pain somewhat.

According to a medical source familiar with back injuries, one possible operation facing Kupchak would be a spinal fusion, which would sideline him for six months.