Washington Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry arrived here Sunday night and almost immediately was afforded an opportunity to bask in his selection of Manute Bol in last week's NBA draft.

"Man-ooh-tay, Man-ooh-tay, Man-ooh-tay," chanted Don Nelson, the Milwaukee Bucks' coach and director of player personnel, upon seeing Ferry. Later, Ferry, Nelson and Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Jerry West engaged in an animated discussion about Bol, who is 7 feet 6 1/4 and weighs 198 pounds. He is a native of Sudan and played one year of college basketball at the University of Bridgeport.

"Hey, he's gained a pound!" joked Ferry. "Besides, I think he could almost play at his present weight. I don't think gaining weight will be as important as keeping him healthy."

The consensus was that the pick was an excellent one and that Bol has great potential as an athlete, not just a shot blocker. Ferry, who arrived late to the NBA meetings because of an illness in his family, said the Bullets may bring Bol to Washington on Friday.

Ferry also explained why a possible last-second deal fell through on draft day. Instead of going to Detroit, forward Rick Mahorn would have been sent to Denver for the Nuggets' No. 1 (15th overall) pick last Tuesday.

"We really considered that one but the problem we had with it was that we couldn't have gotten the players we wanted," Ferry said.

Ferry has said the available players rated highest by the Bullets were Wake Forest's Kenny Green and Louisiana Tech's Karl Malone. However, Utah, at No. 13, took Malone with its choice and, according to Ferry, if Washington had taken Malone with its No. 12, "San Antonio (No. 14) would've jumped all over Green." Mum's the Word

There has been a lack of news at the meetings and, while that may change when the league's Board of Governors convenes Tuesday, chances are no NBA team official here wants to rock -- or knock -- what Commissioner David Stern refers to as the league's "days of prosperity." But Bill Needle, the Atlanta Hawks' public relations director, did point out, "That was the same thing (former President Herbert) Hoover said."

In any case, it seemed like relatively big news when the Bullets announced they will sport new uniforms next season, although the changes, according to a team official, "will be so cosmetic and small that you probably won't even notice them." Maxwell-Walton Trade?

The most enduring trade rumor to emerge is a swap that would send Boston Celtics power forward Cedric Maxwell to the Los Angeles Clippers for center Bill Walton.

The trade initially was proposed before the NBA draft but was not completed when Maxwell failed a physical.

The muscles above Maxwell's left knee, which underwent arthroscopic surgery last season, were found to be 26 percent weaker than the muscles above the right knee. That seemingly killed the deal, but the Clippers had a change of heart and convinced Boston to let Maxwell rehabilitate with their physicians. If the results are satisfactory, look for the trade to be completed.

Under a clause in Walton's contract, if the Clippers didn't make the playoffs, Walton would become a free agent from the end of the season until July 31, when he would revert back to the terms of his contract with Los Angeles.

Walton may attract some interest because he played in 67 games this season, but that represented a single-season career high for the center. His previous best was 65 games with the 1976-77 NBA champion Portland Trail Blazers. In fact, in the 11 seasons since Walton graduated from UCLA, he has played in only 378 regular-season games because of various injuries, missing three entire years in that time. Catledge: Knee Problems

Speaking of damaged goods, the Philadelphia 76ers were given pause for concern when it was disclosed recently that Terry Catledge, the team's No. 1 pick from South Alabama, is suspected of having knee damage.

In fact, when the Nuggets flew the 6-foot-9 power forward into Denver for an examination, he reportedly failed their physical because of arthritis and deterioration in his right knee. However, a spokesman for the 76ers said today that the problems aren't severe enough to inhibit Catledge's career.