Starting guards Tom Henderson and Kevin Grevey, who became free agents when the season ended, have not been offered new contracts yet, the Washington Bullets' general manager, Bob Ferry, said yesterday.
Ferry also said that second-year forward Greg Ballard, perhaps the most marketable Washington player, is practically an untouchable.
An offer was made to Grevey during the season, Ferry said, but the four-year veteran did not accept it.
"We want them back," Ferry added, "but by offering them a contract now we would, in essence, be negotiating against ourselves. My next step is to find out what it will cost us to sign them. They're calling around finding out what their market value is and I'm trying to find out, too."
The word around the National Basketball Association is that Henderson is not highly prized. He did not have a good playoff and his inability to shoot is a glaring weakness.
Grevey's stock may have been improved by reports that the three-point field goal may be used next season.
Ferry indicated that he has talked with the Detroit Pistons and with former Bullet guard Kevin Porter about Porter becoming a Bullet again. Porter, who set an NBA assist record with the Pistons last season, is a free agent. He wants to return to Washington.
Ferry's problem is that he has little he can offer as compensation.
Detroit Coach Dick Vitale has said he would probably settle for Ballard or Mitch Kupchak, bad back and all, as compensation.
"I'll take Kupchak right now and you can ship me his disk when it's fixed," Vitale said, referring to Kuphak's injury.
That injury is part of the reason Ballard is so vital to the Bullets.
"With Mitch's injury and not knowing what is going to happen on it, I'm not at liberty to give up a big man for a little man," Ferry said. "Greg Ballard is a very, very valuable man to our team. He always has been, but even more now with Mitch's injury.
"Hopefully, we can make a move to make us better before next season, but I just can't see us dealing Greg right now under any circumstances."
The threat of losing Ballard as compensation may be what prevents Ferry from signing Porter.
In cases where the two teams involved cannot agree on compensation, Commissioner Larry O'Brien decides.
"I don't want the commissioner to be able to make a decision on any player on my team," Ferry said. "The risk is too great. We're a winning team and if he is going to decide compensation he's going to bear that in mind."
The draft is June 25, and the Bullets will be picking 22nd and last in the first round. Ferry said it is possible a deal could be made to improve the Bullets' draft position, "but I'm only in the shopping stage now. I just want to see what all of my options are."
Despite the obvious shortcomings of his incumbent back court, Ferry said he'd be "very comfortable going into next season with what we have now.
"My philosophy is that, even with the injury to Mitch, we were the second-best team in the NBA last season, and unless there is something out there that can definitely help my club, I'm not going to make any changes."