The Washington Bullets have made another offer to free-agent veteran Greg Ballard, but the team's starting small forward the past five seasons rejected it, Larry Fleisher, his attorney, said yesterday.
"(General Manager) Bob Ferry made an offer, and I called him back a day or two later and told him why it was unacceptable to Greg," Fleisher said. "I told him what it would take to sign Greg. But he didn't think Abe (owner Abe Pollin) would go for it."
Fleisher, however, was more optimistic about reaching a solution than he was three weeks ago. At that time, he said it was obvious the Bullets were not interested in re-signing Ballard, the team captain and player representative.
"The Bullets made him a far-from-insulting offer," Fleisher said of the Bullets' latest proposal. "That indicated to me they have interest in signing him."
Fleisher declined to discuss specifics of the negotiations, but said there are differences over length of contract and amount of compensation.
"I don't think it's a monumental difference, but it's not pocket change, either," he said. "It's within the kind of numbers where it could get resolved."
Asked at the Bullets' Fort Meade training camp if he was more optimistic an agreement could be reached, Ferry said, "I don't know."
Fleisher, traveling for the past week in his role as executive director of the NBA Players Association, said he planned to call Ferry today for further discussions.
Ballard, the fourth pick overall in the 1977 NBA draft, has been working out twice daily on his own and has declined to comment on his contract situation. "I'll leave it up to my lawyer and the Lord," he said recently.
He rejected an offer by the Bullets last season, saying he wanted to test the free-agent market. But he did not receive an offer sheet from any other team. Of more than 40 veteran free agents, only seven received offer sheets from other teams, according to Fleisher.
With Ballard unsigned and with guard Gus Williams (sprained left ankle) and forward Cliff Robinson (sore right shoulder and back spasms) still unable to work, three of the Bullets' potential starting five did not practice yesterday. All the Bullets needed yesterday was Barbra Streisand doing an encore of "The Way We Were."
Without Williams, there is a big difference in the style and execution of the Bullets' fast break. It also seemed they spent far more time in running set plays. But Shue said he had no intentions of returning to the team's old plodding ways, and forward Jeff Ruland noted, "With the guys injured, there are not many substitutions, so after three to four hours (of practice) not even the fleetest of guys are going to be motoring up and down."
Williams watched practice sitting in a chair, his left leg elevated. Robinson sat in the bleachers, a moist heat pack on his sore shoulder. Neither is certain when he will return.
The Bullets play the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in Madison Square Garden. Shue thought Saturday's exhibition against the Houston Rockets in Norfolk would be the earliest that Williams could return.
Robinson said, "It's a little disappointing because you work hard to get into shape. You want to meet your teammates on the floor as well as off."
The Bullets will not practice until 3 today, after their tipoff luncheon at the Touchdown Club.