The Washington Bullets have been unsuccessful in attempts to trade an unhappy Elvin Hayes after the veteran forward asked owner Abe Pollin to deal him to an NBA franchise in Texas.
"Elvin expressed earlier that he would like to go to Texas," said General Manager Bob Ferry, "but I don't have any Texas teams that I can deal with right now. I would be willing to trade him but I can't give him away. I have to get something of value in return, I'd listen to any talk."
Hayes, 34, has talked frequently in recent years about his desire to finish his career in Texas, so he could be closer to his home in Houston. But this is the first time he formally has asked to be accommodated. Obviously aware of the Bullets' impending coaching change, he says if his wish is not granted he will return to Washington next season as "a very unhappy player."
"I know I can play four more years," Hayes said, "and I'm not going to kill myself and shorten my career like I did for them last year, when I played extra minutes and took on an extra scoring burden.
"Unless we rebuild, it's going to be a disastrous season next year. To rebuild, they have to trade me and get some younger players.
"I've given the Bullets 100 percent but it's time for me to think of myself and my family. It would be in my best interests to be in Texas for them and for my future.
"If they are willing to compensate me for keeping me here another few years, that might help. But I still would prefer to be in the state of Texas."
Hayes said he is not threatening to "give less than 100 percent if I come back to Washington. But until now I have had a lot of respect for management. Now it won't be the same. I will play but that would be the end of any friendships I have with the management. I'd do my job and not talk to them.
"I've always loved basketball, but going back to Washington would make me dread it. I love the fans there, but it's just not the right place for me to be anymore. What's the use of me destroying myself and putting out all the time?
"Do you rebuild a team with guys who have only a few years left or do you do it with younger people? I can't believe they don't want to make some major changes. It doesn't make sense."
Hayes' trading value is questionable because of his age, even though he had another outstanding season the past year.
Trade talks also have been hindered by the unrest among the Texas franchises.
San Antonio has a coaching vacancy, which may be filled by Bullet Coach Dick Motta. If so, it is doubtful Motta, who is not a fan of Hayes, would want to trade for him. Dallas, an expansion franchise, also is lacking a coach and its front office has gone on record as saying it would not deal draft choices to acquire veteran players.
And Houston, where Hayes played as a pro earlier in his career, has little of value that would interest the Bullets, short of giving up center Moses Malone, which it would not do.
"I'm not asking any more than Hank Aaron or Willie Mays asked," Hayes said. "Hank wanted to finish up in Atlanta and they said okay. Willie wanted to finish up in New York and they said okay.
"i don't see why the Bullets can't do the same for me. I've had a few off nights but I've given them the best I could for a long, long time. I don't know what else they could ask of me. I've given them my best years.
"If there was a chance to win a little next year, I could see why they might think differently. But it's going to take time to rebuild there and I haven't much time left. At least I'd like to finish out in Texas."
Hayes has been with Washington for nine years, since being obtained in a trade with Houston for Jack Marin. Hayes and forward Bobby Dandridge were the key players in the club's ride to the NBA championship in 1977 and its regular-season best record in 1978.
Last year, with Dandridge hurt much of the time, Hayes scored 23 points a game, his highest average since 1976-77. His career average is 23.6. He also played 3,183 minutes last year. He was the only Bullet on the all-star team.