The Washington Bullets opened their rookie training camp at Fort Meade yesterday with 12 draftees and free agents showing up. All had stars in their eyes, but little chance of making the team.
The Bullets already have 11 veterans, the NBA maximum number of players, on their roster, and that does not include free agent Kevin Grevey.
The rookie with the best shot at becoming a Bullet is 6-foot-10 center-forward Steve Malovic from San Diego State. Washington gave its first pick in the last draft to Phoenix for the right to Malovic, who had played a fifth year of college basketball.
The Bullets got Malovic because they are uncertain when Mitch Kupchak, who underwent successful back surgery June 29, will be able to play regularly again.
The veterans are not required to begin practice until Monday, but five of them showed up for the evening practice last night -- Roger Phegley, Kevin Porter, Larry Wright, Greg Gallard and Dave Corzine.
Starting Monday, the team will practice hard twice a day, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. All workouts will be open to the public.
Yesterday's session was devoted to puting the newcomers through various drills. Three obviously had an edge on the others. Free agent guard Gus Bailey has three years of NBA experience behind him. Malovic and Andrew Parker are the Bullets' top two draft choices.
Malovic and Parker also accompanied the Bullets on their tour of China and the Philippines.
Garcia Hopkins, a sixth-round draft pick from Morgan State, became ill yesterday morning and couldn't finish the session.
Grevey, who has not accepted the offered contract, is the only veteran not expected in camp by Monday. Second-year man Phegley and the veteran Phil Chenier are aiming to bounce Grevey at guard, the one starting spot that is open this season.
General Manager Bob Ferry said he talked with Grevey on Thursday, but still has no idea when or if, he will accept the club's contract offer.
Bob Dandridge, who missed much of last year's training camp because of a contract hassle, still wants his contract renegotiated, but said he plans to be in camp on time. His contract reportedly has one year plus an option year left on it.
Dandridge is set at one forward, opposite Elvin Hayes. Wes Unseld is back at center and newly acquired Kevin Porter will be the playmaking guard.
Of last year's reserves, Charles Johnson probably will have the toughest time staying on the roster. He will be competing against Hegley, Chenier, Larry Wright, Porter and, if he resigns, Grevey.
Hopkins had the best jump reach of the Bullet newcomers, but Lamont Reid, the fourth-round pick from Oral Roberts, was right behind him . . . Fort Meade's gymnasium floor was very slippery, which prevented any five-on-five drills the first workout.