The Seattle SuperSonics are trying to acquire forward Greg Ballard from the Washington Bullets, it has been learned.
Sonics Coach Lenny Wilkens has liked Ballard's play for a number of years and sources say the teams were close to a deal to last Tuesday's National Basketball Association draft, but nothing was worked out.
Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry said yesterday that the Sonics, indeed, had expressed an interest in Ballard.
"I haven't talked to them at all lately, though," Ferry said. "I haven't even come close to any deal. They (the Sonics) have an interest in four of my players, but no deals have been worked out."
The Sonics, in the past, have also expressed interest in Jeff Ruland and Rick Mahorn. They don't have much to offer the Bullets other than cash and draft choices unless a three-way deal can be worked out; if so, the Bullets would like for it to end with them getting forward Adrian Dantley from Utah.
The most talented Sonics, Jack Sikma and Gus Williams are untouchable, and no one else Seattle has is any better than the present Bullets. Center James Donaldson, 7-2, is a free agent, but Ferry said he isn't particularly interested in him.
He is interested in Dantley, but he wouldn't fit in with the Bullets because of his size (6-foot-4) and style. However, if Ballard were to be traded, Dantley could step right in.
Last week, when asked about Dantley, Ferry said he was exploring the matter, but said a lot of other things would have to happen first. "Adrian just wouldn't fit in with the personnel we have now, so other moves would have to be made, too," Ferry said then.
The Bullets aren't dissatisfied with Ballard. He is the team captain, a leader and perhaps its most level head, as well. Despite his slowness afoot, he is a very good defensive player and perhaps the Bullets' best outside shooter. He averaged 18 points and shot 47 percent last season.
Ballard was the fourth player picked in the 1977 draft and has been a starter the past four seasons. He played at Oregon and reportedly wouldn't mind returning to the northwest.
The Sonics traded forward Lonnie Shelton to Cleveland last week, making acquisition of a player like Ballard even more important to them.