Washington Bullets Coach Kevin Loughery said yesterday he didn't feel his team "would have to give up a player of major stature" to acquire forward Bernard King should the New York Knicks decide to match the Bullets' multimillion-dollar offer sheet.
"A week or so ago, it sounded like they had dismissed Bernard from their plans," Loughery said after this morning's practice at Fort Meade. "They turned him down once, I don't know why they would want him now."
New York Knicks General Manager Al Bianchi, saying yesterday that he wasn't surprised by the Bullets' offer sheet, added that he felt "no sense of urgency" to respond.
Bianchi did say that before the Bullets signed King to the reported two-year, $2 million-plus package, they made a compensation offer to the Knicks. Washington was believed to have offered the Knicks a second-round draft choice as compensation. The Knicks reportedly are interested in something more substantial, a player along the lines of John Williams, Jay Vincent or Terry Catledge.
When asked if it was a second-round pick, Bianchi laughed and said "I'm not going to get into that," adding, "I have a thick skin. I've been in the NBA for 41 years and I've survived this long because nothing that happens suprises me."
Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry declined to go into detail on the situation yesterday, saying "at this point, it's hard to answer questions. Right now, nothing would make sense, anyway."
Bianchi said he has not talked with Ferry for about 10 days and that the talks then "were about other players, not Bernard King -- it might have been mentioned as a second thought."
The Knicks are interested in acquiring Detroit forward Sidney Green and under the restrictions of the NBA salary cap don't have the money to pay him and King, which has been considered an advantage for the Bullets.
Bianchi discounted that, however, saying, "If they felt they could get Bernard like that, why didn't they wait? Because there was another team involved."
The Boston Celtics are known to have been negotiating with King.
At Fort Meade, Loughery spoke of the possible combinations the team could have with King present, plans that included Vincent, Williams and Catledge. Vincent is the player mentioned most often in speculation regarding a deal for King, but Loughery was envisioning a lineup with King at small forward and Vincent at power forward.
"That would definitely give us more scoring," he said. "King and Vincent would be very good scorers for us."
A healthy King alone would be a major plus for Washington. The NBA's leading scorer in the 1984-85 season, King, 30, has averaged more than 23 points a game in his eight-plus seasons.
"We signed the best player available that could help our team," Loughery said. "Our weaknesses last year were scoring and rebounding and we feel he'll obviously help in the scoring. We desperately need another avenue to go to in that area."
King's agent, Bob Woolf, said "the old Bernard King would be the bargain of the year in Washington." But what about the rehabilitated King? After missing 27 games in '84-85, all of the 1985-86 season and the first 76 games of last season because of a major injury to his right knee, King came back for New York's final six games last April.
He played a total of 214 minutes in the contests and averaged 24.5 points a game. As impressive as that might have been, others question whether his knee could withstand the rigors of a full season.
Boston Celtics team sources said they backed off when King asked for a fully guaranteed contract. However, Woolf insisted that the Celtics were "quite disappointed" when King signed the Bullets' offer sheet.
"Bernard has passed every exam he's been given and is willing to take any exam that's offered," said Woolf.