Tom McMillen laughed. For years, he and Washington Bullets Coach Gene Shue have been neighbors in a condominium complex in Crofton, Md., but have never seen each other there. That should change now, assuming details of Tuesday's trade are worked out.

McMillen, 31, said he was both "kinda delighted" and kinda confused about his being traded from the Atlanta Hawks on draft day. Here to attend a reunion of Rhodes Scholars and receive a masters degree at Oxford, he was "very surprised" by the trade and called the announcement "premature."

"The Hawks had said they were going to exercise my option," he said, "and that they wanted to negotiate a bit. You can't trade an option."

Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry said today his team will pick up the option on McMillen's contract and that "I don't foresee any problems working it out . . . No, the trade has not gone through formally, because we're waiting for Tom to come back Friday . . . It's only been a problem of logistics. His attorney, David Falk, is in North Carolina and is supposed to call me tomorrow (Friday). It will be worked out."

McMillen also was in England when he negotiated his first NBA contract while studying at Oxford's University College and playing weekends for a pro team in Italy.

"People watching me play over the years have said I've gotten better," he said. "From being kinda passive at Maryland, I've become a lot more aggressive.

"But I have no illusions about my ability. I play a role to the best of my ability. I've always been somewhat adaptive. The last few years I've developed more of an inside game, from the right side of the key. I can play a number of positions defensively. I've guarded (Kareem) Abdul-Jabbar enough over the years to do that with the Bullets.

"I've always admired the Bullets over the years because they worked so hard and played so well together."

Of his career scenario, or how long it will be before he leaves basketball for politics, he said, "There's a lotta ifs. I've always said I'll know when I won't play basketball any more. That'll be when I'm not making a contribution, when I'm no longer part of the pulse of the team."