Manute Bol, the Washington Bullets' second-round selection in last June's NBA draft, is expected to sign a long-term contract with the club today, according to the representative for the 7-foot-7, 204-pound center.
"I don't like to jump the gun on a club, but it's not as if this is World War III or some secret spy mission," said Frank Catapano, Bol's Boston-based attorney-agent. "We've agreed to give them a long-term commitment and they've done the same for us."
According to sources, Bol's contract is expected to be for three seasons, with the Bullets paying slightly more than $100,000 per year. Both the number of years and the amount being paid are higher than normal for a second-round selection, but Bol's case has to be considered an extraordinary one.
The angular center -- who was raised in the Sudan -- declared early for the draft after playing one year at the University of Bridgeport, where he averaged 22.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. After his selection by the Bullets, Bol spent part of the summer playing with the Rhode Island Gulls of the U.S. Basketball League, where he averaged 15.1 points and 15 rebounds.
Bol's height and shot-blocking abilty (in the USBL, he blocked 12 shots a game, with a high of 21) attracted many NBA teams before the draft. However, his frame and questions about the caliber of competition he faced at Bridgeport also made him too big a gamble for some teams.
He has spent the last month in the Washington area working out with members of the Bullets and with University of Maryland strength coordinator Frank Costello in an effort to improve his ability and add some pounds to his frame.
It is unlikely the workouts will develop him enough to make him a major contributor to the Bullets this season, thus the need for a long-range commitment from the club.
Earlier this summer, Bullets owner Abe Pollin, who has taken an interest in Bol, promised to provide that commitment, and Catapano said it was reflected in the contract.
"They've been very fair throughout the negotiations and they made a very good commitment to Manute," he said. "It's a very good contract both for them and for Manute. It's good for us initially and better for them a few years down the road.
"What we were trying to do was get Manute some security. He owns some cows with his sister in the Sudan but we wanted to add some stability if things didn't pan out."
Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry could not be reached for comment yesterday. A few days ago, Ferry said he expected negotiations to begin shortly on a contract for Kenny Green, the team's first-round selection who has been working out with the Bullets for the last week.