Coach Gene Shue of the Washington Bullets said yesterday there is a chance both Dave Batton and Steve Lingenfelter will make the final roster after impressive early performances in training camp.
The Bullets kept four big men last season -- Jeff Ruland, Rick Mahorn, Spencer Haywood and Jim Chones, who was cut Tuesday. Ruland, Mahorn and Haywood are set for this season; if Shue keeps only four again, either Batton or Lingenfelter, both rookies, will go. Shue said yesterday he is contemplating keeping five big men.
"I don't know yet if we can keep both of them," Shue said. "We aren't anywhere near making a decision on either one. Both of them have been impressive at times."
Batton, who is 6 feet 10, signed with the Bullets as a free agent just before camp opened. He played the previous three seasons in Belgium, Italy and Switzerland.
Lingenfelter, 6-9, was a second-round draft choice of the Bullets in 1981 and played in Italy last season. He signed with the Bullets in July.
"They are similar," Shue said, "but Batton is more of a center type. They both bang a lot, though. Batton is a very good outside shooter and Lingenfelter is just a good all-around player. He hits the open man, is a pretty good offensive rebounder and he posts up well."
In Shue's system, the center and power forward are virtually interchangeable, and Batton and Lingenfelter have played at both positions. The center usually gets more open outside shots than the power forward because most NBA centers will drop off if their man goes outside.
"I like the rough stuff," said Lingenfelter, who played two seasons at Minnesota before transferring to South Dakota State. "I played that way in college and I got called for fouls. Here it's legal. They drafted me as a rebounder and as a rebounder is how I'll make the team if I make it. That's how I got my points in college -- off the boards."
Lingenfelter said he was surprised to hear Chones was cut, but added he hasn't thought about who he must beat out to make the team.
Shue also is considering Carlos Terry as a center/power forward. Terry is only 6-5, but is one of the strongest players on the team. He can play every position, but has been playing power forward the last few practices and has been effective.
Greg Ballard twisted his right ankle and sat out the afternoon practice yesterday . . . John Lucas bruised his right shoulder when he was caught on a pick and was held from the scrimmage . . . Kevin Grevey, who hasn't practiced yet because of a torn abdominal muscle, said yesterday, "It's going to be a long time before I can play" . . . Shue has been using rookie Bryan Warrick with the first unit the last few practices. He has alternated with Don Collins at the shooting guard and Collins has alternated with Ballard at small forward . . . Billy Ray Bates put on a show for his teammates and the 100 spectators at Fort Meade in yesterday afternoon's scrimmage. Besides making a number of long jumpers, he had virtually everyone cheering after an incredible dunk on a fast break. Bates cuffed the ball on his wrist, windmilled it, then dunked as he passed sideways by the front of the basket.