The Dallas Mavericks chose Washington Bullet guard Jim Cleamons, while bypassing most of the big names in the National Basketball Association dispersal draft held yesterday in Los Angeles on the opening day of the league meetings.

The expansion Mavericks, who will begin next season, picked one player from each of the 22 existing teams.

Richard Washington of Milwaukee, Austin Carr of Cleveland and Tom LaGarde of Seattle were the best-known players taken.

Each team was allowed to protect Cleamons, Bob Dandridge, John Williamson, Ron Behagen and Lawrence Boston.

The Mavericks are without a coach or a general manager, so Vice President Norm Sonju and Director of Player Personnel Rick Sund made the selections.

Dallas feels the key player chosen was the 6-10 LaGarde, who has had two knee operations in his three-year NBA career.

"I was extremely happy to see Tommy's name on the list, because there were very few big men available and we think he's a quality player," said Sund.

Playing as the backup center to Jack Sikma, LaGarde averaged 4.7 points in 14.2 minutes a game this season.

The only other centers the Mavericks picked were little-used reserves Jerome Whitehead of Utah and Arvid Kramer of Denver.

Nine forwards were selected, including Abdul Jeelani of Portland and Atlanta's Jack Givens.

The Mavericks seem to have done best at guard, picking Carr, Billy McKinney of Kansas City, Mike Bratz of Phoenix and Winford Boynes of New Jersey.

Only Cleamons, Bingo Smith, who was chosen off the San Diego roster, and Carr are 30 or older.

"We decided not to use any shortcuts to try to gimmick it up for a year or two, but just to accept the fact that we're an expansion team," said Sonju."We're going to struggle for a while, but we decided that now was the time to start to build for the future."

Six of the near Mavericks just completed their rookie season and eight others are two-year men.

"We set our philosophy as going with younger players, and we stuck with that philosophy," said Sonju.

Among the veterans, besides Dandridge, Dallas reportedly passed up were Spencer Haywood of Los Angeles. Rick Barry of Houston and Doug Collins of Philadelphia.

"There were some great talent available," Sonju said. "We could have put together a team that would have been awesome, but it might not have shown up at the arena every night. We decided that that was not the way we wanted to go.

"The people in Dallas have seen the Cowboys build through the draft and develop young players with a solid organization. They demand that kind of model and that's what we'll give them."

Cleamons who was acquired from the New York Knicks in December, was with the Bullets only six games before he took over for Kevin Porter as the starting playmaking guard. He started 47 games before a shoulder injury let Porter back in the lineup late in the season.