On a day injured forward Bobby Dandridge's playing status became questionable because of a bad knee, Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry said yesterday that he will do anything to help the team improve. But he is not close to making any moves at present.
"I'm on the phone constantly searching like I always do," Ferry said. I'm mostly in contact with teams who aren't doing well or teams who have shown an interest in some of our players in the past.
"This isn't a hopeless situation or anything near it," Ferry said of his team, which has lost five in a row and nine of its first 11 games going into tonight's 8:05 game against Atlanta at Capital Centre.
"I honestly feel we can work out our problems from within. Winning is an attitude and a feeling, and that's what we need to turn around," Ferry added.
"All organizations and teams go through tough periods. The good teams and the strong franchises are the ones who can gut it out and stick together. So many little things can trigger optimism and attitude, like winning a close game."
Of the Bullets' nine defeats, three have been by two points and another in double overtime.
"We're just going through a tough period and I think we'll pull it out," Ferry Predicted.
The Bullets' biggest need is an outside shooter and Coach Gene Shue prefers he be a guard.
One such player, free agent Gus Williams, is available to the highest bidder. The Bullets have expressed an interest in him, but the compensation they would have to pay Seattle if they signed him, and his high salary demands ($700,000 a year) just put him out of the Bullets' reach.
Ferry cautioned that making a deal merely to make a deal should be a last resort.
"When you're 2-9, you're doing everything you can do," he said. "You're exploring everyting that can be done. I think it's obvious that you're more apt to make moves if you aren't winning. I just hope our situation doesn't get to the point where we have to make moves just to make moves.
"In pro basketball, you are dealing with so few players that can make a difference. Most teams just aren't looking to make deals if they have those kinds of players. You just do the best you can until you can do something to turn it around. No matter what we do, we have to keep the future of the franchise under consideration."
In terms of what they have to offer in trade, the Bullets have their No. 1 draft choice in the 1981 draft, but no No. 1 choice in 1982, having given it to Detriot as compensation for signing Kevin Porter.
They traded their second-round pick in 1981 to Golden State for the rights to Jeff Ruland (who opted to play in Europe), but got a second-round pick in the next draft from San Antonio for Dave Corzine.
A number of teams have shown an interest in free-agent guard Larry Wright, but the Bullets reportedly are asking a No. 1 draft choice for him if he should sign with another team.
Tonight's game starts a critical four-game home stand. The Bullets face Dallas Thursday, Detroit Friday and Denver a week from today.
They may have to play some or all of those games without Dandridge.
Dandridge has possible cartilage damage to his right knee. He injured it in a collision with Campy Russell and Ray Williams Saturday night in the Bullets' 111-93 loss to the New York Knicks.
The knee is swollen and Dandridge is listed as questionable for tonight's game and his availability is on a day-to-day basis.
Greg Ballard will start in his place if Dandridge can't play.
Another thing that could become a problem for the Bullets if they don't start winning is their attendance. After four home games, they are 10th in the NBA in attendance with an average of 9,666. They averaged 8,737 for the first four games a year ago and 11,386 for the season, 10th best in the league.
Seattle is the leader in attendance so far this season, averaging 17,115, and Cleveland is the least-watched team at home, attracting only 4,900 a game. a
The 5-6 Hawks are having troubles, too, mainly because they have been playing with their fourth-string center most of the year. Tree Rollins, Steve Hawes and Tom Burleson all have been injured, leaving Sam Pellom as the only healthy center.
Hawes was activated from the injured list Saturday and former Georgetown star Craig Shelton was put on the list to make room for him. The left-handed Shelton has a bad right wrist.
The Hawks' best player and one of the best players in the league, is 6-foot-8 Dan Roundfield. He is second in the league in rebounding with a 14.2 average; sixth in blocked shots with 2.27 a game; eighth in steals with 2.45 a game, and he is averaging 20.6 points.
Only thee Bullets are among the league leaders in any statistical categories. Wes Unseld is seventh in rebounding with 11.2 a game and Elvin Hayes ninth with 10 a game. Kevin Grevey is fifth in three-point field goal percentage, having made nine of 29 for 31 percent.