Unable to work out a satisfactory deal, the Washington Bullets yesterday matched the offer the Indiana Pacers made for Kevin Grevey, thus retaining the services of the 6-foot-5 guard.
The Bullets had 15 days to match the Pacers' four-year, $1.4 million offer or let Grevey, Washington's second-leading scorer last season, go to Indiana. They waited until the final hours yesterday before deciding to keep him.
Their other options were to sign Grevey and trade him, or to work out a deal with the Pacers not to match the offer. Grevey had played out his option and was a free agent.
The Pacers offered the Bullets veteran forward George McGinnis in exchange for not matching the offer, but the Bullets rejected the deal. It was learned that the last Bullet proposal was for Indiana to surrender its first-round draft pick in 1982 plus reserve center Clemon Johnson, a 6-foot-10, three-year veteran from Florida A&M, in exchange for Washington's refusal to match the offer and a first-round pick in 1983. The Bullets acquired the '83 pick from Los Angeles in the Mitch Kupchak deal.
The Bullets do not have a 1982 first-round pick, having traded it to Detroit three years ago for Kevin Porter.
"The basic problem was that they needed a lot more to waive their right of first refusal than we were willing to give up," said Bob Salyers, Indiana general manager. "I'm very disappointed because we really had big plans for Kevin and he really wanted to play for us."
"Adding up everything, keeping Kevin was just the thing that made the most sense," said Bob Ferry, the Bullets' general manager. "It made more sense than accepting any of the offers we got for him. I talked to every team in the league, and no offer was worth taking.
"Our position didn't change from the day we got the offer sheet. We said it would take one hell of a deal for us to part with Kevin."
Grevey, the Bullets' No. 1 draft choice out of Kentucky in 1975, averaged 17.2 points a game last season, second only to Elvin Hayes' 17.8; he was also second on the team in assists with 300.
"My feeling when I got the offer sheet was that I wanted to be either a Pacer or a Bullet," Grevey said. "Either one would have been good. I said all along I couldn't lose."
Grevey was looking forward to playing for the Pacers because Indianapolis is only a two-hour drive from his family's home in Hamilton, Ohio.
"I'm not upset at all and I plan to do everything I can to help the Bullets win ball games," Grevey said.
"By matching the offer, the Bullets showed they are doing everything they can to have a good team. They always said they liked me and wanted to keep me and now they've shown it.
"I've been a part of the Bullets when they were a great team and I'll be a part of them while they're rebuilding. They wanted to make the best deal possible, and the best deal for them was to keep me."
The signing of Grevey leaves two Bullets still unsigned: veteran forward Bob Dandridge, who is a free agent, and No. 1 draft choice guard Frank Johnson.
Ferry said the Bullets are undecided about what to do with Dandridge.