The Washington Bullets drafted guard Wes Matthews for immediate help, center Ricky Mahorn for the future and invited free-agent Carlos Terry to training camp with nothing whatsoever in mind.
All three have made the final 11-player roster.
Matthews has been everything the Bullets hoped he would be and Mahorn has improved so rapidly that the team felt able to trade Dave Corzine. It is the 6-foot-5 Terry who has been the real surprise. He could be the answer to the Bullets' big-guard problems and he gives them a much-needed intimidator in the back court.
The Bullets will begin their 1980-81 season Friday night at the Silverdome against the Detroit Pistons and will open at Capital Centre Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers. The starting lineup of Elvin Hayes, Bob Dandridge, Wes Unseld, Kevin Porter and Kevin Grevey is set. Matthews will back up Porter, but what roles Mahorn and Terry will play is up in the air, Coach Gene Shue said yesterday.
Mitch Kupchak was being used as the backup center to Unseld until he hurt his elbow midway through the exhibition season. That gave Mahorn more playing time and he used it to impress Shue, assistants Bernie Bickerstaff and Don Moran and General Manager Bob Ferry.
"There's no doubt Ricky can play," Shue said. "He's done great and he's shown that he can play away from the center spot, too. I envision him as a potential power forward."
The 6-9 Mahorn scored 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the final exhibition game and has shown a consistent 15-foot jump shot to go with a strong inside game. He didn't face much top-flight competition at Hampton Institute, so the Bullets were not counting on him developing as quickly as he has.
"He still has to keep improving," Shue added, "but I'm not reluctant to use him."
The coach added that he will let the games dictate who will be his backup center at the start, either Kupchak or Mahorn. "I'm just not certain how he and Mitch will be used."
Terry's situation is even less certain. He isn't expected to get much playing time, but he is a good passer and shooter and is such an aggressive defender that Shue couldn't part with him.
Shue said he believes in going with eight men and using the others only when forced to.
"I don't think you can use all 11," he said. "To get in the groove, your first eight players have to get their minutes, unless you have a situation where all of your players are equal. You have to get the performance out of the top eight."
Terry understands this and said he will do whatever the Bullets tell him to do and play whatever position they tell him to play without complaint.
Terry played center and forward before he came to camp, but never guard.
"I think they brought me here to play forward, but when they saw how well I handled the ball, they thought about me as a big guard."
Terry played for C.E. (Big House) Gaines at Winston-Salem (N.c.) State, the same coach and school that produced former Bullet Earl Monroe.
"One thing I learned from Big House was that you never have to try and impress anybody," Terry said."You just do what you do best. I just try to play a well-rounded game."
Terry was originally a fifth-round draft choice of the Lakers in 1978, but they played him at center in the summer league that year and Terry had problems. He was cut.
He played for Allentown in the Continental League last year, but missed seven weeks of the season when he caught an elbow in the mouth that broke his jaw.
He was invited to the Bullet tryout camp and immediately impressed the right people.
Terry credits Grevey for part of his success.They are often seen together long after practice, playing one on one or going over drills.
"Grevey has helped me more than anyone else," Terry said. "There were a lot of things I didn't know about the position and he was the one who helped me. It's nice to have a veteran who'll be honest with you and really take an interest and want to help. A lot of veterans just don't want to be bothered with helping the younger players."