Barring a late-night trade, the Washington Bullets have narrowed their first-round choice in today's NBA draft to six possibilities, General Manager Bob Ferry said.
"Our most pressing need is for a player who can immediately contribute at guard, forward or center," Ferry said yesterday from his Capital Centre office. " Dwayne Washington, Brad Sellers, Kenny Walker could be there. Walter Berry, John Williams and Mark Alarie, too. Those are all guys we would consider taking."
Ferry, Coach Kevin Loughery and his assistants, Bill Blair and Fred Carter, spent yesterday viewing films of the various players. There also was a 1 1/2-hour meeting with owner Abe Pollin to discuss the possibilities for the 12th overall selection.
Late last night, there were unconfirmed reports that the Bullets were working on a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. The proposed deal had Washington sending center Jeff Ruland and forwards Dan Roundfield and Cliff Robinson to Philadelphia for center Moses Malone.
Ferry could not be reached for comment regarding the report, which had spread from coast to coast by the early-morning hours. Under NBA rules, any deals completed but not announced before the midnight trading deadline cannot be disclosed until the completion of the second round of the draft.
The 76ers have the first pick in the draft and reportedly are leaning toward center Brad Daugherty of North Carolina. Boston, which picks second, is very high on Maryland's Len Bias, unless it decides to take a center and taps William Bedford of Memphis State or Chris Washburn of North Carolina State.
It seems that the Bullets' most glaring need is at point guard, given the free agent status of Gus Williams; the condition of Frank Johnson, another free agent who has been injured for most of the past two seasons, and the erratic play of Leon Wood.
However, Ferry gave the impression that he is leaning toward a bigger player. Washington, from Syracuse, is the only true point guard on the list of six and is expected to last until the Bullets select.
"There are a couple of guys on the list we like more than others, but at least one of them will be gone when we pick, maybe both," said a Bullets spokesman. "That's why you have to look at a number of people. What if you have your heart set on them and both are picked? What's your thinking then?"
Of the players on the Bullets' shopping list, Sellers and Williams are the highest projected players. Sellers, a 7-foot center/forward from Ohio State, could be selected anywhere from the seventh pick on. Williams, a 6-7 forward from LSU, who is joining the pros after only two years of college basketball, may go earlier than 12th because of his great potential.
When asked if the Bullets were indeed looking for a big player in the draft, another source said: "Not necessarily. Who we pick depends on the team we have tomorrow," an indication that the team was still trying to either move up in the draft or make a deal for veteran talent.
Loughery conceded yesterday that "a lot of talk" has been going on regarding a possible deal and told WRC-TV: "The Bullets could be part of it."
Another report circulating had Houston center/forward Ralph Sampson coming to Washington for Robinson and the 12th pick, but Ferry scoffed at the idea.
"I talked with them Sunday ," he said. "Houston isn't going to trade Ralph Sampson. They'd be nuts."
The Bullets have been the major wheelers and dealers of the past two drafts, making trades for Gus Williams, Robinson, Roundfield and for the pick that brought Manute Bol. Such maneuvering has been more difficult this season for a number of reasons, Ferry said.
"There's the salary cap, along with the fact that there have been a lot of front-office changes. A lot of new coaches don't know who they've got. They don't know their teams."
Another trade rumor had Boston, apparently intent on dealing Robert Parish, sending the center along with its first-round draft choice next year to Detroit for guard Joe Dumars and the No. 11 pick today.
In Dallas, there was talk that Mavericks forward Mark Aguirre, the No. 7 choice and further considerations would be dealt to the Golden State Warriors for center Joe Barry Carroll.
Ferry said, "Unless you have the No. 1 pick, other teams are really making your decisions for you," but the 76ers -- who do have today's first pick -- seem equally perplexed.
"We're sitting tight. We haven't decided yet," 76ers General Manager Pat Williams told the Associated Press. "We have to wait until we see what comes up. I don't think you get your best offers until the last minute."
Although there were reports that some members of the organization were leaning toward Bedford, Philadelphia is expected to take Daugherty with the first choice. At a news conference yesterday in New York, Daugherty said: "Philadelphia would be a great opportunity and a lot of fun because they're a team with a winning tradition and a lot of great veterans. They can teach me a lot."