One day after officially acquiring forward Bernard King, the Washington Bullets continued to shake up their roster, trading forward Jay Vincent and guard Michael Adams to the Denver Nuggets yesterday for guard Darrell Walker and forward Mark Alarie.
In another move, the Bullets re-signed free-agent guard Frank Johnson.
Johnson was in uniform for last night's preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Walker and Alarie were due to arrive from Denver today, three days before the season opener against the Hawks in Atlanta.
The 6-foot-4 Walker, 26, is in his fifth season. In his previous four the first-round draft pick out of Arkansas played in 326 of a possible 328 regular season games, averaging 11 points, three rebounds and four assists per game. His best season was 1984-85. Like King, Walker was a member of the New York Knicks and averaged 13.5 points and 4.9 assists.
Alarie, a 6-8 second-year player from Duke, appeared in 64 games as a rookie with the 1986-87 Nuggets, averaging 7.9 points and 3.3 rebounds. He was the 18th player taken in round one of the 1986 draft.
"He can shoot the ball. He's a young player and he has range," Bullets Coach Kevin Loughery said, although it was obvious that the focal point of the deal from Washington's standpoint was Walker.
"We needed a big guard, no doubt," Loughery said. "He has the ability to play either the point or big guard, he can run and he's athletic."
An outstanding defensive player as well, Walker's durability contrasts mightily with that of Johnson. Then in his sixth season with the Bullets, Johnson, 28, played in just 18 games last season, missing time with a fracture in his left foot and tendinitis in his left knee.
The fractured foot was Johnson's fourth such injury in three seasons. In that time he's played in only 78 of a possible 246 games. During his Washington career, Johnson has averaged 11.2 points and almost six assists per game.
Johnson, 28, a point guard from Wake Forest, made an estimated $325,000 last season. Team sources would not be specific but said his new deal is for a similar amount, possibly with a number of incentive clauses.
"I'm very happy to be back and looking forward to show what I can do," Johnson said last night.
Johnson began last season as the Bullets' starting point guard until suffering a fracture during a Nov. 19 game against Detroit. Shortly thereafter he underwent surgery and a bone graft.
Johnson returned to the Bullets in February but went back on the injured list in March because of the tendinitis. He returned to action before the playoffs, averaging 2.7 points in the three-game postseason series against Detroit.
It was the re-signing of Johnson that made Adams expendable, according to Loughery. The Bullets were also said to be hesitant to keep the 5-11 Adams along with 5-3 Tyrone Bogues, their first-round choice in the June draft. Walker provides another alternative at the point against bigger guards.
"With Frankie and Muggsy, we definitely needed some size," said Loughery.
The acquisition of Walker would also seem to make free agent Darwin Cook -- who swung between the point and off-guard positions for the Bullets last season -- expendable. However, Loughery said there's still another guard position open on the team.
The present candidates for that spot are free-agent rookies David Henderson and Dale Blaney, and fifth-round draft choice Patrick Fairs. There's also veteran swing man Tony Campbell, currently out with a broken nose.
"Each of them has a definite upside," said Loughery.
King, Johnson, Walker and Alarie give the Bullets a total of 17 players in camp, in addition to Cook and forward Charles Jones, another of Washington's veteran free agents. The team must be at its 12-man roster limit by Thursday night.
There is no indication that the team is finished dealing. The Bullets reportedly have talked with Philadelphia and Milwaukee, among other teams.
Further changes, though, could jeopardize any sense of continuity and chemistry, which is a concern of Loughery. Last season, the Bullets began the year with seven new players.
"It's going to take some time to get people together and we've got a tough schedule early in the year, but it's not like we're bringing in rookies," the coach said.