Finding a replacement for guard Kevin Grevey, out indefinitely with a torn abdominal muscle, has become one of the major concerns of the Bullets, whose first preseason game is only one week away.
Six players are vying for Grevey's position as the starting shooting guard. Coach Gene Shue won't say whom, if anyone, he favors.
But he will say that rookie Bryan Warrick is now an unexpected contender. In fact, Shue says that if Warrick continues to improve, he could win the job.
"Warrick knows how to play defense and if he improves his shooting, then he really has a chance to play that spot," said Shue. "I can envision him and Frank (Johnson) as our starting guards."
Don Collins, who started 18 games last season, including the last five when Grevey suffered his abdominal injury, has been running with the first unit since the first practice. He has been impressive, but Shue said the job hasn't been given to Collins.
"That spot is wide open," said Shue. "Whoever wants it and earns it will get it. It's that simple. Who's there now doesn't mean a thing. I don't know when we'll make a final decision. I'm in no hurry. We want to make sure we give everyone a good look."
Collins' familiarity with the system and the fact that he filled in for Grevey last season puts him ahead of the others. Originally, his primary competition, if Grevey is unable to play when the season opens Oct. 29, was expected to be free agents Billy Ray Bates, Nate Davis and Keith Herron and second-year man Garry Witts. But now Warrick also is part of the picture.
Following is a capsule of the six players competing for Grevey's spot:
Warrick, 6-foot-5, was the Bullets' first pick in the last draft (25th selection, overall) and has been playing the point guard and shooting guard spots in workouts. He has impressed the coaching staff with his defense. He's very smooth, and because he also can play point guard, he can take some pressure off the point guard by handling the ball from the offguard spot. Warrick's weakness is his outside shooting.
Bates is excellent offensively, but Shue is more concerned with his learning how to play defense. He is behind most of the others, but because of his proven ability, Shue sees no need to rush him.
Collins averaged 10 points a game last season and shot 51 percent. He averaged 20.8 points and shot 67 percent as a starter in the last five regular-season games. In an open court he is virtually unstoppable; in traffic, he can rebound well.
Witts is steady and dependable. He works hard on defense, but doesn't have the scoring potential of most players he is competing against.
Herron, 6-7, has played small forward and big guard. He has a good outside jump shot and three years of National Basketball Association experience.
Davis is a leaper and a scorer, but is just learning on defense and ball handling.
Forward Spencer Haywood, who sat out the second half of Sunday's afternoon workout because of a sore knee, practiced yesterday, but had his left knee wrapped . . . Shue said he hasn't decided yet if he wants to make Jeff Ruland a starter. "That's not a major decision to make right now," he said. "Jeff is going to get his minutes and it's nice to have someone like that on the bench I can turn to" . . . General Manager Bob Ferry said he made an inquiry about Utah's Adrian Dantley after the Jazz acquired John Drew from Atlanta, but said he never talked about a trade. Even though he is interested in Dantley, Ferry said he has no plans to go after him. graphics 1&2: Photos by Richard Darcey--TWP Don Collins' familiarity with the Bullets' system is a plus. Billy Ray Bates has proven offensive ability, but defense needs work.