Frank Johnson, the Bullets' No. 1 draft choice, won't be signing his contract or appearing at practice for at least five days because of high blood pressure.
Johnson did not practice with the team, nor did forward Bobby Dandridge, who did not report with the rest of the veterans for their first workout yesterday at Fort Meade. The Bullets, as expected, have not offered a contract to Dandridge, 33, so he is a free agent.
Johnson, a 6-foot-2 guard from Wake Forest, had agreed to a contract in principle, and was set to make his debut with the Bullets yesterday. However, when his blood pressure was too high during a physical examination in the morning, he was put on medication and sent home.
"Frank will see a doctor Tuesday and it will be determined then when he can play," said General Manager Bob Ferry. "I don't know, but I would guess it might be Friday."
The Bullets will hold off signing Johnson to a contract, reportedly $200,000 annually for five years, until he is pronounced physically fit. Team officials said Johnson had no history of high blood pressure.
"It wasn't that high, but now is the time to treat it," said Bill Pollak, Johnson's attorney. "Naturally, Frank was disappointed, but I told him that one week isn't going to make a bit of difference in his career. This is just a precautionary measure."
Dandridge was a starter on the championship 1977-78 team, but played little the past two seasons because of injuries.
"Bobby can't come to camp without a contract and we haven't offered him one," said Ferry. "Right now he's free to negotiate with anyone, but so far nobody has made him an offer."
Kevin Grevey, who is expected to share the shooting guard position with Johnson, skipped the afternoon scrimmage session because he has not signed his new contract and didn't want to risk an injury.
The Bullets agreed to match Indiana's offer to Grevey of $350,000 for four years, but have not sat down with his attorney and signed a new contract. The six-year veteran was on hand for the morning drills and the conditioning part of the session.
"Grevey's agent, Scott Lang, is in town now," Ferry said. "We have some details to iron out, but we'll probably get everything signed on Monday."
Joe Pace was also conspicuous by his absence in the afternoon, and this one might be permanent. The 27-year-old center again failed to complete running drills in the morning workout, then couldn't complete the first lap (440 yards) of the mile run.
While the rest of the players continued running, Pace sat in the bleachers. He did not show up for a free lunch, and Ferry and Coach Gene Shue said they didn't know where he was or when he would be back.
"I have no idea when we're going to see Joe again," Ferry said of the former Coppin State star who made a habit of missing practices, planes and meetings when he played for the Bullets during the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons. He was signed as a free agent by the Bullets after playing in England last season and in the Urban Coalition League this summer.
Despite all the missing persons, Shue still had 18 players to work with in the afternoon, including newcomers Jim Chones and Brad Holland, acquired from Los Angeles in the Mitch Kupchak deal.
When Shue divided the players for the scrimmaging, his first unit consisted of Greg Ballard and Carlos Terry at forward, Kevin Porter and Holland in the back court and Rick Mahorn at center . . . The second team had rookie Ed Odom and Andre McCarter at guard, second-round draft choices Charlie Davis and Claude Gregory at forward and Chones in the pivot . . . Terry moved well despite a heavy wrapping on his left knee. He had surgery on the knee last season. . . . Odom, a fourth-round draft choice of San Diego last year who was cut and then played in the Continental League, won the mile run and the $50 first prize with a time of 5 minutes 13 seconds, one second in front of Holland. Defending champion Grevey was fifth.