The two newest Bullets, 6-foot-3 guard Andre McCarter and 6-5 forward Anthony Roberts, have a much better chance of sticking with the team than did their predecessors.
Rookies David Britton and Keith McCord were signed to 10-day contracts to replace Bob Dandridge and Carlos Terry. The Bullets released them after the contract period had elapsed, opting for McCarter and Roberts, both National Basketball Association veterans.
McCarter and Roberts made their debuts in Saturday night's 115-97 victory over the Houston Rockets at Capital Centre. McCarter had four points and one assist in two minutes. Roberts failed to score in his two minutes.
Nevertheless, Roberts' chances of being with the team after 10 days seem a little better than McCarter's because Roberts plays small forward, the position at which the Bullets are weakest.
With Dandridge and Terry on the injured list, Greg Ballard is the only other small forward. Either guard Kevin Grevey has played backup or the Bullets simply haven't used a small forward, going instead with two power forwards and a center or two centers and one power forward. That has hurt them on occasion, especially defensively.
"Roberts is more of a long-range prospect," said Coach Gene Shue. "He's a proven player, and we need help at the position he plays."
Roberts, from Oral Roberts, was a No. 1 draft choice of the Denver Nuggets in 1977. He played in all 82 games as a rookie, starting most of them, and averaged 9.5 points.
He played in only 63 games the following year and, after 23 games last season, he was cut.
"I was on top of the world in Denver and then all of a sudden we started losing," said Roberts. "Some changes had to be made, and I was one of them."
Roberts sat out the remainder of last season and then went to the New Jersey Nets' training camp this year. An abcess was discovered on his left knee and it took six weeks to rehabilitate the knee enough so he could play. He went to Scranton of the Continental League and was averaging 22.2 points a game, shooting 51 percent from the field, when the Bullets signed him 35 minutes before Saturday's game.
"This is a big chance for me," Roberts said. "I just want to get some playing time and give Greg a breather and contribute any way I can. They have a good team here and I think one of the reasons they've been losing is becuase they've been getting tired in the fourth quarter. I can give someone a breather and maybe that won't happen.
McCarter is in a different situation.
He is in much the same mold as Kevin Porter and Wes Matthews -- a penetrating, playmaking guard. It's tough to carry three such players on an 11-man roster, but the 6-1 Matthews has been effective as the second guard, despite his size.
Matthews' propensity to lose the ball is very unsettling to Shue, but Matthews is so explosive, the coach has to play him. Until he becomes more accustomed to the NBA style of play, he may be more effective as a shooting guard.
That would open the door for McCarter, but put Austin Carr in limbo.
McCarter was averaging 18 points and 9.8 assists with the Atlantic City Hi-Rollers in the Continental League.
The Bullets, who will play Milwaukee at Capital Centre Tuesday, took control early against the Rockets, as Wes Unseld returned to the lineup after an ankle injury and Grevey scored 13 points in the first quarter. The Bullets led by 10 at halftime and then outscored the Rockets, 11-0, at the start of the third period.
Grevey, who had shot only 29 percent the previous three games, made 11 of 16 shots, including two of two three-point attempts, as he equaled his season high with 29 points.