The Washington Bullets have called a news conference for 4:30 p.m. today at which they will introduce former Philadelphia 76ers general manager John Nash as their new general manager, replacing Bob Ferry.
Nash finalized details on a multi-year contract with Bullets owner Abe Pollin in the last couple days. The club offered Nash the job Friday, two days after meeting with him at Pollin's home for two hours. Nash had a second meeting with the Bullets this weekend, bringing his wife, Ann, to town.
Nash was in Washington last night but was not taking phone calls to his hotel room. Pollin could not be reached for comment.
Nash resigned from the 76ers June 6, citing exhaustion from handling both the basketball side and marketing side of the operation. There also was the sometimes heavy-handed approach of owner Harold Katz.
"He's got a good reputation," Utah Jazz President Frank Layden said of Nash yesterday. "The important thing in being a general manager is you've got to have authority from your owners. He has a reputation for a lot of integrity, very honest. If John says something to you, you can put it in the bank. He's not flashy, but he's very competent."
"I don't really know John Nash," Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said last night. "I've met him and talked to him on a couple of occasions. There's not a lot I can tell you about him that you don't already know."
Unseld has been on vacation for the last week and hadn't been around during Ferry's denouement. He said he was "shocked like everybody else" when he heard that Ferry was resigning and had no inkling Ferry was thinking about leaving. The two were in Chicago last weekend for the NBA's pre-draft camp.
The 43-year-old Nash replaced Pat Williams in Philadelphia in June 1986. This past season, he finished third in voting for the Sporting News executive of the year, behind the Lakers' Jerry West and San Antonio's Bob Bass, the winner.
Since he has a quiet reputation, little is known about how Nash judges personnel and talent. His trades have benefited the 76ers greatly, building a strong supporting cast around Charles Barkley. In the last two years Philadelphia acquired starters Johnny Dawkins, Hersey Hawkins and Rick Mahorn, along with key reserves Ron Anderson and Derek Smith.
Said Layden: "A lot of guys like to jump up and down and take credit for things. But he has a lot of integrity. That'll get you movement around the league. People will return your phone calls."
Nash, who graduated from St. Joseph's, is a Philadelphia native. He worked with the Flyers and Blazers of the now-defunct World Hockey Association, and was executive director of the Big Five for six years. He's well known in towns like Drexel Hills, "corner bars, where you hang out and play pinochle until three in the morning," said a former 76ers employee. "John goes down to the Palestra on Tuesday from 1 to 3 because that's when the media plays ball. He goes down there and gets beat up."
Among the areas in which Nash may make changes is the Bullets' scouting system. Other teams, like Atlanta and Golden State, have almost full-time presence in Europe, for example. In the last year, the Los Angeles Lakers' Vlade Divac, Portland's Drazen Petrovic and Atlanta's Alexander Volkov have come from Europe.
It's unclear how Nash's presence will affect the Bullets' hierarchy. Unseld reported to Pollin as much, perhaps more, than he did to Ferry. How much input Nash will have in the June 27 draft also is uncertain. The Bullets have two second-round picks in the draft, 35th and 37th overall.