The Washington Bullets will resume play against the Atlanta Hawks tonight at Capital Centre after a four-day Christmas break that may have produced a gift of sorts, namely a high-scoring player.
By the time the team takes the floor against the Hawks, the Bullets in all likelihood will have signed guard Freeman Williams, 29, to a 10-day contract. He played in San Diego for Bullets Coach Gene Shue in the late 1970s, and the move is being made after an apparent attempt earlier this week to sign forward John Drew was stymied by the NBA.
Williams, one of the nation's leading scorers during his collegiate days at Portland State, hasn't played in the NBA since the 1982-83 season, when he averaged five points in 19 games with the Utah Jazz. Since then he has been in the Continental Basketball Association. He is currently playing with Tampa Bay, where the Bullets found forward Charles Jones.
According to General Manager Bob Ferry of the Bullets, the ideal scenario would have Williams recapturing the magic he displayed with Shue on the West Coast. In the 1978-79 season, he averaged 10.4 points with the Clippers, then improved to 18.6 the next year. Before the 1980-81 season, Shue came east to Washington, but Williams continued his fine play, averaging 19.3 points in a full 82-game season.
"He had some good offensive years with Gene," said Ferry. "We could use more scoring and that's his strength -- at least, that's what he's done in the past. I don't know what will come of it, but we thought it wouldn't hurt to look at him for 10 days."
Drew, 31, apparently was Washington's first choice. A two-time NBA all-star, he played in 19 games with Utah last season, averaging 16.2 points before being released by the team after what was described at the time as a series of personal problems, including an arrest on charges of writing bad checks.
According to a story in the Denver Post, he completed a rehabilitation program at the Highland Ridge Hospital in Salt Lake City in September and remained in the area and waited for an NBA team to offer him a contract. When that didn't happen, he joined the Wyoming Wildcatters of the CBA, where he currently plays.
According to the Denver Post's story, the Wyoming coach, Bill Klucas, said that the team has tested Drew for drugs two or three times a week and found him to be drug-free. However, an NBA spokesman said yesterday that an investigation must be conducted before any team can sign Drew. Specifically, it was not known whether the Salt Lake City rehabilitation program was drug-related.
"We're conducting an inquiry to the facts regarding John Drew," said the spokesman, who asked not to be named. "We understand he has undergone another drug rehabilitation program. When all the information pertinent to the case is in, the league will determine Drew's eligibility."
The official added that no timetable had been set for the investigation, which is necessary under the guidelines of the league's collective bargaining agreement with the NBA Players Association. Under the agreement, a player may seek help for drug dependency twice and remain in the NBA, but a third offense banishes him from the league.
The agreement wasn't signed until 1983, which means that Drew's first treatment for drug abuse, in 1982, wouldn't be held against him. He has been treated two other times, in the summer of 1982 and again last winter.
"At present we have no plans on signing him," Ferry said today. "We've just talked about looking at him, but until the league determines his status we can't do anything about it." Knicks 113, Bulls 96: In Chicago, Pat Cummings scored 22 points to rally New York, which had trailed by 13 points, to its fourth straight victory. George Gervin led Chicago with 30 points.
The Knicks played without center Patrick Ewing, who jammed his right knee in Wednesday's victory over Boston. Ewing probably will return to the lineup Saturday against Atlanta. 76ers 117, Clippers 108: In Los Angeles, Moses Malone scored 31 points as Philadelphia won its fifth straight. The 76ers played without Julius Erving, who remained home to attend the funeral of public address announcer Dave Zinkoff.
The 76ers' Charles Barkley and the Clippers' Cedric Maxwell were ejected because of a third-period fight. Nets 124, Pistons 116: In East Rutherford, N.J., Buck Williams scored 14 of his 26 points as New Jersey outscored Detroit, 39-18, during an 11 1/2-minute span of the first half and went on to win its fifth straight. Spurs 109, Lakers 91: San Antonio's Steve Johnson scored 26 points as visiting Los Angeles lost for only the fourth time in 28 games. The Spurs have won four straight. Mavericks 105, Suns 98: In Phoenix, Mark Aguirre, playing for the first time after a two-game suspension, scored 24 points as Dallas rallied to win. Phoenix's Charles Pittman had a career-high 22 points. Rockets 106, Jazz 99: Houston improved its home record to 15-0 behind Akeem Olajuwon's 21 points and career-high nine blocked shots and Ralph Sampson's 15 points and career-high 25 rebounds. Utah's Adrian Dantley had 35 points. Bucks 105, Pacers 87: Paul Pressey scored 22 points and Randy Breuer had 16 as Milwaukee won at home. The Bucks played without star guard Sidney Moncrief, who was kicked in the knee during a Tuesday morning practice. Warriors 131, Kings 121: Purvis Short scored a season-high 41 points and Joe Barry Carroll had 30 to lead Golden State at home.