Washington Bullet forward Bob Dandridge said today that he is not having difficulties with the team and that he is surprised an issue was made about his missing a practice Thursday.
Dandridge has been unhappy about his contract with the Bullets for the last two years, but he stressed that the only reason he missed practice and has played in only one game this season is because of an ankle and foot injury.
Dandridge did not come with the team to Boston to face the Celtics and he is not expected to play against the Detroit Pistons Saturday night at Capital Centre.
The Bullets have been concerned about Dandridge for some time, and that concern increased greatly Thursday when Dandridge who was expected to show up for practice at Bowie State in order to receive treatment on his foot, did not do so.
The Bullets were unable to locate him before they left for tonight's game with the Celtics.
"The doctor told me to treat my foot with ice, whirlpools and rest," Dandridge said. "That's what I've veen doing. I've been injured before and not made the drive to Bowie and it was not that big a thing."
Dandridge injured his foot in the first game of the season, against the Philadelphia 76ers at Capital Centre, and hasn't played or practiced since.
His ineffectiveness against the 76ers (eight points) and the way he has kept to himself at practices has alarmed some of those in the Bullet organization, and forward Elvin Hayes has publicly questioned Dandridge's behavior.
"All of a sudden, E is the judge on who is doing right and who isn't, huh?" Dandridge said.
"I've been quiet and keeping to myself because basically I'm that way. I thought I was doing the right thing by going to camp and not saying much of anthing. Last year, I wanted a better contract and I said some things that people didn't like, so this year I've kept to myself and that doesn't seem to have been right, either. I'm just in a tough position.
"I'm just surprised that this whole thing is such a big issue," Dandridge added. "I have a strained ligament in my foot and I just don't want to go back too early and end up being out longer. I'd like to stay out until I'm completely well, so when I come back I can make a sizable contribution. The people who are playing in my spot are doing pretty well in my absence, anyway.
"We've only played three or four games, so it seems to me that it's just better for me to get completely well before I come back. I think (Coach) Dick (Motta) understands that. I've never had any problems with him about playing or not playing. He's been very fair with me."
Motta termed Thursday's happening a mixup and said Dandridge was not fined.
Dandridge signed a three-year, $250,000-per-annum contract with the Bullets in 1977 and the team says it has an option on that contract for another year.
Dandridge tried unsuccessfully to have the contract renegotiated last season. He held out for three weeks at the beginning of camp and was fined $3,200 before reporting.
Dandridge said in the offseason that he did not expect the Bullets to renegotiate his contract this year, since they had made their position clear the year before. He did say, however, that he was still dissatisfied with the contract and would try to work something out with owner Abe Pollin.
Dandridge's attorney, Scott Lang, said the Bullets have resfused to renegotiate and Dandridge has accepted that position, but added there were some promises made to Dandridge by the Bullets at the end of last season about rewarding him for his performances.
Lang added that the talks between his client and the Bullets about Dandridge's future "have been going on for months. We aren't talking about anything that will change the terms of the existing contract, but the talks have been progressing and we have been swapping ideas, and we have agreed to keep on meeting."
It was learned today that the next meeting is scheduled for Monday.
Motta said Dandridge seems to be acting "a little strange, but I don't know what's going on. All I know for sure is that he's always performed for me in the past. I may not have always agreed with some of the things he has said, but I sure can't fault him for what he's done on the court. When the whistle blows, he's always done what I've asked of him."