The NBA announced a moratorium last June on signing draft choices and free agents until today so that it could concentrate on achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA Players Association.

But now, the two sides are no closer to an agreement than they were more than three months ago. And the 23 teams have the added burden of trying to sign their draft choices and free agents by the time training camps open next week.

"Maybe a month from now, we'll look back and say it {the moratorium} wasn't that bad, we got everything done, or maybe we'll be thinking how terrible it was," said Bob Whitsitt, president of the Seattle SuperSonics. "You just don't know right now."

"I think it made for a very unexciting summer," said Washington Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry. "But other than that . . . No one has ever faced anything like this before, so you don't know what's going to happen."

Before today, trying to negotiate with draft choices or veteran free agents from other teams was prohibited.

Just how frantically teams will have to move in order to prepare themselves depends on factors such as their won-lost record last season and their specific needs.

A team looking to improve by acquiring another club's free agents, for example, is worse off than more established teams such as the Boston Celtics because of the amount of time it takes (at least under the previous collective bargaining agreement) to affect free agent movement between teams.

"That's the biggest problem that teams will have," said Ferry. "All you can do right away is see what different players are looking for, and then, if you make an offer, you'd have to wait 15 days for his team to decide if they were going to match it."

By then, most teams will be well into their preseason schedules and would run the risk of disrupting their squads by adding or replacing players.

Even teams not who aren't as interested in another team's free agents, such as the SuperSonics, have their own unique set of problems.

Not only do the SuperSonics have to try to sign two players they picked among the first 10 choices in the June draft -- Olden Polynice of Virginia and Derrick McKey of Alabama -- they have to try to sign six players from last season's roster whose contracts expired at the end of the season.

"Even if everyone comes in and says yes to everything right away," Whittsitt said, "you still don't know if it's enough time to get it all done before the start of training camp.

"Instead of focusing on one guy and not talking to anyone else until he's done, now the best way may be to sit down and spend a day with each of the people involved. That way you'll have parameters and if you feel comfortable and have made progress then maybe you can finish up the contract work over the phone.

"If both sides have done their homework you know what a guy's worth and it shouldn't matter if it takes three months or three days to get someone signed."

Ferry disagreed to some extent, pointing out that the contract a first round pick receives usually depends on the money given to the players selected around him.

"A lot of times in negotiating, you look at two things: his position in the draft and what position he plays," he said. "Usually there's a domino effect, players going one through 23. That will be the big delay with draft picks, watching other people set the market for centers, forwards and guards."