Although Kevin Porter is out for the season with a ruptured left Achilles' tendon, Coach Gene Shue insisted yesterday the Bullets will play the same type of fast-breaking offense they used last season, when Porter led the NBA in assists.
Shue did indicate he will make a slight adjustment in the back court, however.
"I've always believed that you are better off playing a regular two-guard offense where both can do everything, instead of relying on one guy to handle the ball all the time and another guy to shoot it," he said. "We'll be forced to go more with that type of system now."
The Bullets' most effective offense last season was a 1-4 alignment, with Porter outside handling the ball and the other four players spread out in front of him. Porter would penetrate and try to pass to the open man.
The Bullets ran the fast break whenever possible. Otherwise, they tried to run what Shue calls a secondary break, which also relied on Porter to find the open man before the defense had a chance to set up.
"Kevin handled the ball 90 percent of the time for us, but he also had very few turnovers," Shue said of Porter, 31, who was hurt in practice Sunday morning and underwent surgery that night. "By relying more on two guards instead of one, we'll have more passes and probably more turnovers, too.
"We can play the same offense we did, but a lot of people are going to have to pick up the slack. We still have Frank Johnson, Andre McCarter, Ed Odom and Brad Holland and Kevin Grevey who can run the offense. We could also bring someone else in, but that doesn't seem likely."
"We're in a position where we wouldn't bring in just any guard," General Manager Bob Ferry said. "It would have to be a quality -- and I mean quality -- guard and I don't think there is anyone out there we can get who is potentially better than Frank Johnson."
The Bullets don't have much to offer if they want to trade for a veteran playmaker. They don't have a first-round draft choice in the next draft, having traded that pick to Detroit for Porter three seasons ago. They have three second-round picks in 1982 and two first-round and three-second round selections in 1983.
There are some top free-agent guards available, including Paul Westphal of Seattle and Ray Williams of New York, but Ferry said the Bullets are not interested.
The Bullets had made inquiries before Porter's injury into the availability of John Lucas, the former Maryland all-America and Golden State Warrior. But Lucas signed a four-year, $1 million offer sheet with the Utah Jazz last week, and the Warriors have until Oct. 22 to exercise their right of first refusal.
Williams is believed to be headed for New Jersey. Westphal is coming off a stress fracture in his foot.
"As soon as they hear you have an injury, every team in the league calls you and offers you somebody they don't want. I've said no to all of them so far," Ferry said.
"How successful we are with our fast break will depend more on our rebounding than anything else," Shue added. "I've said that all along. We can't replace Kevin Porter. That's a fact. He was probably the best penetrator ever to play in this league and we won't be the same team without him."
"If I was looking at what we really needed, though, it would be a star. I mean someone we can throw the ball to and know he'll score. I don't know if we have anyone like that out here or not. We'll find out, but that's what we need more than we need a playmaker."
The Bullets expect Johnson to take over for Porter, but Shue and Ferry are high on Odom, a 6-foot-3 free agent from Oklahoma State.
"I have no qualms about putting Ed Odom in the game," Shue said. "I know he'll rebound, play defense, make the right pass, pick up the loose balls and hit the open shot. He's been a good guard from the day he came in."
The Bullets open their six-game exhibition schedule Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls in LaGrange, Ill., and Shue said McCarter and Holland probably would be his starting guards for the game. Grevey won't play because of a dislocated little finger in his shooting (left) hand.