CITY OF INDUSTRY, CALIF., SEPT. 19 -- Former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, at one time considered a sure bet for a top position with the Charlotte Hornets, one of the four NBA expansion teams, is still a candidate for the head coaching position with the team, "but not a leading one," according to the franchise's general manager.

"Lefty will be coming out to talk with us within the next two weeks," said Carl Scheer. "We're still interested in him."

Shortly after the Hornets were granted a franchise in April, reports surfaced that owner George Shinn wanted to hire Driesell, whose Atlantic Coast Conference ties would make him a natural in the Charlotte, N.C., area. However, the hiring of Scheer, a former Denver Nuggets executive and commissioner of the minor league Continental Basketball Association, eliminated the opportunity for the general manager's position.

Driesell also was said to hurt his chances greatly in June, when he was quoted as saying that in some instances, use of cocaine could enhance a player's performance. The statement came one year after former Maryland star Len Bias died from cocaine intoxication.

"That talk didn't do it," Scheer said. "The only question I've had from the start is how deeply he was involved with what was going on there. We still consider him a candidate, but not a leading one."

Moratorium: Side Effects

The NBA moratorium on the signing of veteran free agents and draft choices, with the lack of a collective bargaining agreement, has brought trade talk between teams here for the league's annual meetings to a virtual standstill. That includes the Washington Bullets, who were involved in discussions with various teams shortly before the June draft.

"We're still trying to do some things, but it's just so hard the way things are now," said one team official. "No one {in the NBA} is really sure of what's going on."

If the NBA Players Association had its way, the draft would be eliminated in the next collective bargaining agreement. But according to NBA Commissioner David Stern, no way. "The draft is just an accepted part of professional sports," he said.

Stern added that he feels that an agreement will be reached without a strike:

"In the last session, I sensed that the owners understood the issues that are driving the players and that the players understood where the owners were coming from. People on both sides were saying, 'If I were in your position I'd say the same thing.' Now, there are gaps that aren't ready to be bridged, but I remain optimistic."

On another matter, Stern said that in addition to asking a federal court to move the Los Angeles Clippers back to San Diego in the league's upcoming trial against the team, another possible option is dissolution of the franchise. Such a move could pave the way for another team to enter the Los Angeles area, possibly in Orange County.

Just what would that mean to the NBA? Another possible settlement could involve the Clippers paying the league the difference between the value of the franchise in San Diego and what a new team in the Los Angeles area would bring.

That amount was thought to be approximately $25 million. However, Stern said a more realistic figure would be "at least double the going rate." The teams entering the league in the next three seasons paid $32.5 million for the right to do so. So does that mean the NBA would be seeking $65 million from the Clippers in damages?

"I would say that that's an accurate enough figure," said Stern.

Gervin: Once a Spur . . .

George Gervin, the San Antonio Spurs' all-time leading scorer, is returning to the franchise this fall in a yet-to-be determined capacity.

The question is, just what will Gervin do with the Spurs?

"I may coach a little bit, I may do a little scouting, I may even be a television commentator," he said. "I might not be good at any of them, but I just want the people to remember one thing: that the Iceman could put the ball in the basket."

The former guard's NBA career could be categorized another way. He scored many of those points despite an aversion to practice, often showing up late or not at all. That apparently hasn't changed. On the day Gervin signed his new agreement with the Spurs, he showed up 20 minutes late for the news conference announcing it.