Bullets forward Spencer Haywood, angered by criticism of his play by Coach Gene Shue, said today that he will decide overnight whether to ask to be traded or retire, "if an understanding can't be worked out."
"It's been put to me that I'm a handicap to this team," said Haywood, after today's 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. "That hurts me a great deal because I'm trying my best to help the team. But if they think I'm hurting the team, then maybe I shouldn't be here. I want to play, but I feel awful about this whole thing.
"I'm going home to discuss it with my family. I don't even know if I'll come to practice tomorrow (Monday). I have a big decision to make. I have to reanalyze everything. I like this team and I like being in Washington. I wouldn't do anything to hurt this team, but I'm being made to feel like I'm keeping someone else back and taking a position away from them. I don't want to do that."
Shue said he was surprised by Haywood's statements. He said Haywood hasn't been performing well this season, but said he never had criticized the player publicly until after he was told of what Haywood said today.
"When you're playing great, a coach should tell you and when you're playing lousy, he's supposed to tell you, too, and Spencer has been playing lousy," Shue said.
Haywood has been bothered by a strained calf most of the season. The injury has caused him to miss two of the last five games. He hasn't been very effective when he has played.
He started today and played 26 minutes. He missed 10 of 16 shots and had two rebounds, two turnovers, five fouls and no assists. In the last four games in which he has played, Haywood has scored 25 points, 13 of them today, and has taken 23 rebounds.
"My leg feels better, but it isn't 100 percent," said Haywood. "I'm trying to compensate for it. I know I'm a step slower because of it, but it's getting better. My leg isn't why this is happening. It has nothing to do with it."
Haywood signed with the Bullets as a free agent before the start of last season, after playing in Italy the previous year. He averaged 13.3 points and was runner-up to Gus Williams of Seattle in comeback-player-of-the-year balloting.