The Washington Bullets, feeling a need for additional depth at guard, today traded rookie forward Kenny Green, their top pick in last year's NBA college draft, to the Philadelphia 76ers for second-year guard Leon Wood.
Green, a 6-foot-7 forward from Wake Forest, was Washington's first-round selection -- the 12th choice overall -- in last June's draft. Wood is a 6-3 guard from Fullerton State. The 76ers selected him 10th overall in the 1984 draft.
Green learned of the trade moments after the Bullets arrived at their hotel here for Saturday night's game against the Houston Rockets.
"Gene (Bullets Coach Shue) came up to me and said that he wanted to talk to me," Green said. "I thought it was going to be one of the meetings we've been having. I guess that wasn't the case."
Green had played in just 20 of the Bullets' 36 games this season, averaging 5.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 11 minutes of playing time. Green had joined the team in Sacramento last Monday after missing the first game of the current five-game trip with the flu. The illness had caused him to miss four of the previous six games as well.
Before his illness, Green had been getting more playing time. The team has had problems scoring lately, and Shue felt Green's scoring talents were superior to Darren Daye's, who was receiving the bulk of reserve work at small forward at the time.
Shue also was concerned that Green, who sulked at times and had trouble coping with his inactivity after starring in college, was on the verge of becoming a player with an attitude problem.
"I can understand how that could happen," Shue said recently, referring to Green's almost morose behavior. "I think his whole self-esteem is based around basketball and if he's not playing, then he might not feel very good about himself."
In his final 13 appearances with the Bullets, Green averaged 14.5 minutes, 6.7 points and almost three rebounds per game. While acknowledging concern with Green's attitude, General Manager Bob Ferry said that wasn't the main reason for the trade.
"Being upset with not playing isn't terminal, and when he played I thought he played well," Ferry said. "It was a situation, though, where if we got him minutes we couldn't get Darren minutes. Everyone was getting into everyone's way and no one was happy. Kenny had never faced that situation before."
When asked if he felt he'd gotten a fair chance with the Bullets, Green responded, "I don't know. You saw the people who were out there playing, what do you think?
"I don't know what to think about anything right now. If this had happened after two or three years in the league, maybe I'd know how to deal with it better. Right now it seems like it happened because I'm a rookie. Weren't there some veterans sitting on the bench that they could have traded?"
Said Ferry: "I hate trading away young talent but that was what they wanted, a young forward. That's why a team has to accumulate almost too many good players at certain positions. Unless you do, you can never trade for your needs and you can't improve your team."
Ferry said the trade negotiations began in earnest about four days ago. In an interview Thursday, Ferry said he had talked to teams about possible trades on a regular basis but nothing was happening, mainly because of the NBA salary cap, which limits the total amount of a team's player salaries.
"You call a team now and one of the first things you talk about is which one of your players is making what amount of money," he said. "You're on the phone all the time but when you get down to the nitty gritty, everything has to sit almost perfectly for a deal to be made."
In this case, the salaries of Green and Wood were almost identical. According to the league's collective bargaining agreement with the NBA Players Association, the cap on salaries is $4.2 million dollars. Before the trade was made, the Bullets' payroll was $4,231,383, with Green getting a salary in his first year of $245,633. Wood's salary with the 76ers this year is $253,000.
Wood also was having trouble getting playing time. He was playing behind Maurice Cheeks, one of the league's best point guards, and Andrew Toney, one of the better off-guards. Wood averaged 5.3 points a game this season and was shooting 42 percent from the field. He also averaged about 15 minutes a game.
"I love it," Wood said tonight from Philadelphia, where he watched the 76ers play Sacramento. "I'm going to get the opportunity to show what I can do, to show people why I was a No. 1 draft choice. It's hard to leave my friends, but this is the NBA, this is a business.
"I talked to Mr. Ferry. He told me I'll be playing off-guard and point guard. It doesn't matter to me. I was a point guard in college and last year, too, but I can shoot, definitely. No promises have been made, but they definitely told me I'd be getting some more playing time. I can't wait. I've got a flight at 7:40 in the morning to Houston. Oh yeah, I'll be there."
Ferry said: "They knew when they drafted him that they wouldn't be able to get him enough playing time to keep him happy. And we were in more of a need situation than they were. After (injured guard) Frank (Johnson) went down, you always have to say to yourself, 'What if it happens with someone else?'
"That's why you stockpile . . . If you don't do it like that you can only trade, say, a guard for a guard, and no one is going to give you a player at the same position that's better than the one you're offering."