The Washington Bullets fulfilled some present and future needs in Tuesday's National Basketball Association draft, but the route they took has a few surprising twists.
And if the first-round selection of Wisconsin guard Wes Matthews took Bullet followers aback, the acquisition of Iona center Jeff Ruland was a coup of the first degree.
Ruland came to Washington from the Golden State Warriors, who chose him with the second-picks and dealt him to the Bullets for future considerations s as yet unnamed. But that's just the end of the story.
It begins with Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry, who liked what he saw of Ruland both in person and on Film. Ferry felt that Ruland would have been one of the top 10 draftees next year if he chose to stay in school, but he knew the Bullets' chances of landing him would have been slim because the team does not have a 1981 first-round pick.
When Ruland decided to skip his final year at Iona, everything changed. Ferry explored the possibilities of moving up in the first-round, acquiring another first-round pick or getting an early second-round pick, but other teams wanted more than he was willing to give.
Except Golden State. The Warriors had four picks in the first 25 and wanted only three. Ferry is a good friend of Scotty Stirling, the Warrior general manager, and the talks began.
After a number of deals with other teams fell through, Stirling called Ferry 15 minutes before the draft began and offered the Warriors' second second-round pick, the 25th overall.
After Ferry had chosen Matthews in the first round, he called Stirling and told him to choose Ruland, if available, and that they would work out a trade later.
Ruland was available. The warriors named him and the deal fell into place, giving the Bullets a player Coach Gene Shue feels could replace Wes Unseld after next season. The details of what Washington must give up have not been worked out, but it is likely they will trade a second-round pick and, possibly, other considerations.
"Considering my draft positon," Ferry said "which I couldn't do anything about, I think I did about as well as I possibly could. Time will tell."
Ferry wanted a point guard all along, and Matthews' performance in a tryout camp last week convinced him.
"Gene loved him right away, "Ferry said. "He was just spectacular, sensational and exciting, and those are the kinds of players Gene likes."
"i need a kid like that," Shue said."he can come in and score off anybody,"
Matthews, almost 6 feet 2, is an incredible leaper who is expected to give incumbent Kevin Porter all he can handle next season. Matthews is a good ball-handler, shooter, passer and defender.
He more than held his own against Iowa's Ronnie Lester and Ohio State's Kelvin Ransey, when they met last season in Big Ten games.
Ransey was picked fourth, by Chicago and Lester 10th, by Portland. The teams then traded the two, with Portland throwing in a future No.1 pick.
If the bullets sign Matthews, they would have four guards -- Porter, Kevin Gervey and John Williamson, and they would have five if free agent Larry Wright signs a new contract.
Ferry said he has made Wright an offer, but the four-year veteran is still shopping.
Ferry indicated that if the 6-1 Wright accepts the Bullet offer, the team would have three small guards, "and it is extremely doubtful we'd keep all three."
The bullets are counting on Mitch Kupchak and Bob Dandridge recovering from injuries and plan to team them in the front court with Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Greg Ballard and Ruland. With the four guards (Porter, Matthews, Grevy and Williamson) there would be only one opening on the 11-man roster for veteran Dave Corzine, the other draftees, Wright and any agents the Bullets might sign.
Among local players drafted in later rounds were George Washington's Mike Zagardo, by Atlanta; Billy Bryant of Western Kentucky and Carroll High School, by Philadelphia; Al Dutch of Georgetown, by Seattle; and James (Turkey) Tillman of Eastern Kentucky and Eastern High School, by the Sonics. Bryant and Tillman played for Maryland before transferring to their Kentucky schools.