With the National Basketball Association regular season only a week and a half away, the Washington Bullets still have an unsettled situation on their guard line.
The Bullets reduced their active roster to 13 yesterday by cutting rookie forwards Charlie Floyd and Norman Black.
It appears that Kevin Porter will run the offense. After four exhibition games, three of them losses, it is uncertain who will start alongside Porter and who the backups will be.
Roger Phegley and Kevin Grevey are competing for the starting big guard spot, but neither has been particularly impressive in the preseason.
Phegley played well against Detroit Saturday night, but his shooting was off in the other three games. He shot five-for-10 against the Pistons, but only 13 of 37 for 35 percent in the preseason.
He has held his first-string position, however, and can improve his stock tonight when the Bullets play the New York Knicks at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., at 8 o'clock, because Grevey will not play because of a pulled groin muscle.
"It started bothering me all of a sudden during Saturday's game," Grevey said, "so I took myself out and I couldn't play Sunday. I should be okay by the weekend." Grevery is shooting eight of 22 for 36 percent this preseason.
After tonight's game the Bullets will have three more exhibition games. They will play Atlanta in the second game of a capital Centre doubleheader Friday and meet the Hawks again Saturday in Atlanta. They will conclude the exhibition season Sunday in Pittsburgh against the Philadelphia 76ers. The regular season begins Oct. 12 at Capital Centre against the 76ers.
The Bullets are taking a cautious approach with Hil Chenier and Mitch Kupchak. Chenier hopes to make his exhibition debut tonight after missing almost two weeks of camp with back spasms.
Kupchak, who underwent back surgery June 29, is still on his recovery schedule. He is expected to start scrimmaging in a month and General Manager Bob Ferry said he is only "five or six weeks away from being in the lineup.
"I won't consider Phil an active player until he proves he can play," Ferry added.
The Bullets have had an assortment of other injuries.
Elvin Hayes missed the three weekend games with a sore hip, but is expected to start against the Knicks tonight.
Bob Dandridge, who has missed one preseason game, will not play tonight, either. He has a strained ligament in his left leg and will be out two or three days.
Steve Malovic, who hasn't played a preseason game because of a back problem, worked out yesterday and Coach Dick Motta is hopeful he can play tonight.
"We still don't know what Malovic can do and we have to find out," Motta said of the 6-foot-10 rookie from San Diego State.
Motta has seven guards in camp: Phegley, Grevey, Chenier, Porter, Larry Wright, Charles Johnson and Gus Bailey.
They can't all stay.
The most impressive so far has been Bailey, a 6-5 free agent who has played with New Orleans and Houston in the NBA and Reno in the Western Basketball Association.
Bailey is the only defensive specialist the Bullets have at guard, and is capable of playing both shooting guard and playmaking guard. He is also the only playmaker the Bullets have who is more than 6 feet tall.
Bailey had 10 points and six assists in 18 minutes against the Pistons Saturday in the Bullets' only preseason win, and he came back the next night with 21 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"He has been playing good, but I've learned not to get too excited about what guys do in the preseason," Motta said.
"We know Gus can rebound and play defense. If he can come in and show he can run a ball club then it opens up a whole lot of options."
"I know he (Motta) wants to see me run the offense," Bailey said. "I played point guard in college and at Reno last year, but when I was in New Orleans with Pete (Maravich) no one else handled the ball much.
"I think the way Grevey, Phegley, Larry and C.J. shoot, I'm better at point guard for this team. I just want to get me a job and this is a hard place to try and get one."
The release of Black, a free agent from St. Joseph's, was not unexpected, but Floyd, a third-round draft pick from High Point, had been impressive and was given a good chance to make the team.
The only rookies left on the team now are Malovic and former DuVal High School star Garcia Hopkins, a sixth-round hardship draft choice from Morgan State.