The Washington Bullets are in the process of acquiring a player, most likely a guard, to help shore up their depleted roster, according to General Manager Bob Ferry.

"The wheels are in motion. Maybe something will happen before the next game," Ferry said yesterday, the day after the Bullets, playing with just eight men available, lost to the lowly Indiana Pacers, 97-80.

Aside from the absence of the two fracture victims, center Jeff Ruland and guard Frank Johnson, the team played without Gus Williams, Kenny Green and Darren Daye, all laid low by the flu. Even trainer John Lally was a no-show, also suffering from the illness.

The new acquisition, like recent pickup Freeman Williams, is expected to be a guard and will be signed to a 10-day contract, if and when the deal is made.

"We've already made contact with him and things are happening, but it's really no big deal," said Ferry, who declined to say just whom the Bullets were after. He added that speculating on identities would do no good. "You'd just be wrong," he said.

It is safe to assume that the newcomer will be a point guard. Five available players include Ennis Whatley, recently cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers; Butch Carter and Paul Thompson, recently cut by the Philadelphia 76ers; Eric Turner, playing with the Detroit franchise in the Continental Basketball Association, and Tom Sewell, a 1984 first-round draft choice of Philadelphia released by the Bullets before this season.

Freeman Williams, brought in on Dec. 26, has evidenced scoring ability, but it is obvious the team can't function smoothly with him in tandem only with either Jeff Malone or Dudley Bradley.

In the last two games, the Bullets often have employed one-on-one play and two-man isolations. The strategy worked in a 98-93 win over New Jersey in the Meadowlands Saturday, but there also were long stretches when the product displayed was ragged. In Monday night's loss to Indiana, that was the case for the entire game, as Washington shot just 35 percent from the field.

After that game, Coach Gene Shue bemoaned his Bullets' inability to set up anything resembling their usual patterned, precision offense. Shue said yesterday that Gus Williams, who has missed the last three games, "is still feeling very weak." Thus the need for another point guard, with games coming up Thursday against the Knicks in New York and Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks here.

"We're just stunned. We haven't even had a chance to think about what's happened," said Bradley of the team's recent run of injuries and illness. "If there was anything you could do about it, we'd have everyone back and playing, but you can't. We just have to hang in and do the best we can."

Ferry said he wouldn't use the term "snakebit" in describing his team, "at least no more so than any other team in the league could.

"For the last two years, though, the whole problem has been that our key people have been injured and been forced to stay out for such long periods of time. Then, when that happens, any other little injury or day-to-day thing like the flu becomes that much more important.

"If we had Frank and Jeff, we would survive missing a guard or two players with the flu. Now, though, it just makes it very hard."