Coach Dick Motta said yesterday that with the Bullets desperately trying to make it to the playoffs, he has not had the time -- or the desire -- to think about his future with the team.
Bullets owner Abe Pollin said in Friday's editions of The Washington Post that he expected Motta to return as his coach next season. Motta has one more year left on his contract.
"I haven't given next year a thought," Motta said, responding to Pollin's comments. "All I know is that I do have a year left on my contract. I haven't got time to think about next year now, though. First things first. We have other things on our minds. We're trying to get into the playoffs."
Motta has been mentioned as a possible candidate to coach the expansion team in Dallas that will begin play in the National Basketball Association next season. There have been unconfirmed reports that he also is being considered for several other coaching jobs in the league.
"My name has been bantered around in connection with Dallas, I know, but I thought I had laid that to rest pretty well," Motta said. "If other people like to speculate about jobs for me, fine, but you certainly don't go out and covet other people's jobs. This just isn't the time to be talking about any of this."
Pollin also indicated that he wanted to rebuild his team, and that he has been pleased with Elvin Hayes and Greg Ballard. He also indicated center Wes Unseld may retire after this season.
Unseld, 34, is having one of his finest seasons, but has considered retiring for the past two years. He said yesterday he will decide after the season ends if he will return next year.
The Bullets beat the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night, at the Capital Centre, for the first time in six tries this season. That 119-113 victory, coupled with Cleveland's 109-96 triumph over Houston, moved the Bullets to 1 1/2 games of the sixth-place Rockets in the race for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Both Houston and Washington were idle last night, but are in action tonight.
The Bullets play the fifth-place New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden (WDCA-TV-20, 8 p.m.) and the Rockets host the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Bullets.
After tonight's games, the Bullets, now 35-41, have only five games remaining. The Rockets, 37-40, have four left.
"Even with the victory over Philadelphia, we're still in the hole," Motta said. "I think it'll take 39 wins for us to tie with Houston for that last playoff spot, unless somebody falls completely apart in the last week."
If the Bullets and Rockets tie, the Bullets will get the playoff bid because they won the season series, 4-2.
The Bullets most likely will be without playmaker Jim Cleamons in New York tonight. Cleamons sustained a badly bruised shoulder when he collided with Philadelphia's Lionel Hollins in the first minute of the game Thursday. He left Capital Centre with his left arm (he is left-handed) in a sling. Although x-rays taken yesterday were negative, his arm is very sore. a
Motta said that Kevin Porter would probably start for Cleamons, with Larry Wright as his backup.
Porter started the first 28 games of the season before being benched in favor of Cleamons, who was acquired from the New York Knicks.
Porter sprained his ankle in San Antonio Tuesday and didn't play in Atlanta the next night. But he scored 17 points on eight-of-12 shooting and had 11 assists in 33 minutes against the 76ers Thursday.
Motta has decided to go with Hayes, Unseld and Ballard as long as possible every game. When one of them tires he will use starting guard Kevin Grevey as a frontcourt reserve.
Grevey has responded well to the double duty. He scored 27 points, including three of five three-point shots, against San Antonio, then scored 27 again (two for two on the three-point shots) against the 76ers Thursday.
"Grevey showed me something against Philadelphia," Motta said. "He really played well. He proved that if you hustle that hard, something good will happen."
"I can get my shot off at forward easier that I can at guard sometimes," Grevey said. "The key with the three-point shots is just to take them in your normal rhythm."
For the season, Grevey has now made 17 of 59 three-point shots, five of his last seven.
"The last couple have felt like regular 15-foot jumpers," he said.
The Bullets signed Lawrence Boston to a contract for the rest of the season yesterday. Boston signed a 10-day contract March 1, replacing Mitch Kupchak, who was put on the injured list, and signed another 10-day contract when that one expired. Boston has averaged 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in the 10 games he has played . . . Hayes played the entire 53 minutes Thursday, marking the third time he has done that this season. In the last six games, Hayes has played an average of 47 minutes . . . John Williamson, whose defense is so bad that the Capital Centre fans have even started riding him about it, hasn't been shooting very well lately, either. He is 11-37, or 29 percent over the last three games . . . The Bullets will play host to the Detroit Pistons Sunday at 1 p.m.