Kevin Porter and John Lucas went to training camp knowing there was room for only one of them on the Bullets' final roster. Today, they'll find out who survived.
The Bullets were hoping one would have played himself out of a job. But that didn't happen.
The Bullets also have tried hard to trade one of the point guards without success. They now face a 6 p.m. deadline today to get to the 12-player National Basketball Association limit. And yesterday, General Manager Bob Ferry and Coach Gene Shue said they still had not made a decision.
The regular season begins Friday night in Indianapolis against the Indiana Pacers. The Bullets will practice this morning, then fly to Indianapolis. Shue said the roster moves will be made before boarding the plane.
The Bullets still have 16 players on the roster, including guard Kevin Grevey, who has missed camp with a torn abdominal muscle incurred last season. He will begin the season on the injured list, but that still leaves the Bullets with three extra players. Shue and Ferry will say only that there isn't room for both Porter and Lucas.
They also must decide whether to keep both Don Collins and Billy Ray Bates, who play primarily at the shooting guard position. If they do, they can keep only two from a group that includes swing men Garry Witts and Carlos Terry; forward Steve Lingenfelter and forward/center Dave Batton. If the league decides to cut the rosters to 10 or 11, as it may do when it finishes negotiations with the players association, Shue and Ferry will have yet another dilemma.
Forward Charles Davis, out the past week with strained knee ligaments, is expected to practice today for the first time since incurring the injury. The Bullets also could put him on the injured list to start the season, giving them one more spot. If placed on the injured list, Davis would have to miss a minimum of five games.
Rookie guard Bryan Warrick, out the past three days with a groin muscle pull, is expected back today, too. Shue isn't sure if Warrick, who started all six preseason games, will start against the Pacers.
"Unless he works out real good tomorrow (Thursday), he won't start," said Shue. "A few days of missed practices is critical for a rookie."
Collins, who has also been mentioned in trade talks, has been running with the first unit in Warrick's absence.
"We just haven't made any decisions yet," said Shue. "It's hard because there are a lot of things we're considering, like contracts, chemistry, the makeup of the team and everything. There are so many intangibles. We've been hoping all along we could make a trade to help us solve the problem, but so far we haven't been able to. We'll keep trying as long as we can."
Much of the attention of camp has been focused on Porter and Lucas, two established veterans. Lucas had a problem with cocaine last season. That did not help the Bullets' trade position. Porter was recovering from a ruptured Achilles' tendon, one of the most serious injuries a basketball player can have.
Shue made Frank Johnson the starting point guard, then said Lucas or Porter would back him up. Shue says he can't keep two backup point guards with little scoring potential.
Porter and Lucas each played 72 minutes during the preseason. Porter shot 47 percent while averaging 3.7 points, and had 20 assists and seven turnovers. Lucas shot 32 percent while averaging three points a game, and had 13 assists and 11 turnovers.
"When I came to camp I was just trying to see if I could play in the NBA after the injury," Porter said yesterday. "I found out that I can. I'm very satisfied with the camp I had because I know I can play now. If things don't go well for me here, then it's just a question if anyone else is interested in me. I hope someone is.
"I knew I was competing against John all the time, but neither he nor I was going to give up. We were both coming off problems of sorts, but we're battlers and we weren't going to make it easy to cut either one of us. We both know we can play. The thing is we don't know what our value to the rest of the league is."
Lucas says he has heard so many rumors about being traded he just stopped listening.
"I think I had a good camp," said Lucas. "I really improved my defense, which was one of my glaring weaknesses. Who stays and who goes is just a matter of what Gene wants. I'm ready to accept whatever happens."