With Pervis Ellison fresh in tow, the Washington Bullets approach tonight's NBA draft trying to find buried treasure in the less-than-fertile soil of the second round.

Ellison spent the day meeting the coaching staff, getting looked at by doctors and addressing the tough times he spent in an injury-plagued rookie year in Sacramento.

"I'm not a rah-rah guy," he said at an afternoon news conference at Capital Centre. "When I'm out there, I do give my maximum. I'm in a situation where it doesn't really matter what the media says or what the fans say. Just as long as my teammates know, and the coaching staff knows, that I'm doing the best that I can do on the court, that gives me a satisfying feeling."

The 6-foot-10 Ellison was examined by team physicians Steve Haas and Herb Singer yesterday. They probably directed a lot of attention to his right foot. He had surgery in September to remove bone spurs from the foot, and tendinitis in his right toe followed, limiting him to 34 games.

More tests were scheduled for this morning. The Bullets have until 2 p.m. to void the deal for physical reasons.

The Bullets have interviewed a half-dozen or so potential draft candidates. Feelers are still out regarding last-minute deals, but though Washington is interested in moving up in the draft order, it's not going to let go of some of its young players mentioned by others as possible bait. So the coaches and General Manager John Nash went home relatively early.

"We have a feel for who we think might be there," Nash said. "I think that we have a chance at a quality guard or two, and if by chance we're surprised and a big guy's there that we don't expect, we'd grab the big guy."

That could be anyone from guards Phil Henderson of Duke, Negele Knight of Dayton or Brian Oliver of Georgia Tech, to bigger men like Providence's Abdul Shamsid-Deen, McNeese State's Anthony Pullard or Elizabeth City State's Kenny Williams.

A player who could be a sleeper is Houston's Carl Herrera, a 6-9 forward who declared early entry status after his junior season. He could have been a top-15 pick, but the league kept waiting for the necessary paperwork, and he wound up signing with a team in Europe.

It was former general manager Bob Ferry's specialty to comb the second round of the draft for rough gems like Manute Bol and Ledell Eackles. Now, after Monday's Jeff Malone trade, Eackles has inherited a starting guard position. That could be changed by another trade, though it seems unlikely Washington will get back in the barter game before using the 35th and 37th picks overall.

Finding someone like Eackles is "more than you can expect," Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said yesterday. "The possibility is there. Some believe we're going to get a player who can help us. I think there's that possibility, but I think it's rare."

From one viewpoint, the Bullets may have had their draft already by acquiring Ellison, who plays forward and center. But there remains the question of why the Kings would let him go. A No. 1 overall pick had never been traded a year after he was drafted.

Said Unseld: "There are some very profound, unanswered questions out there. We traded a known for an unknown. If this thing works out, it's going to be a pretty good deal for us. If it doesn't, we tried."

Nash also didn't want to yet proclaim thumbs up or down.

"Most trades, people want to judge them the day after they're made," he said. "The real test is two or three years down the road. Time will tell. What we've seen is that Pervis Ellison the person is an articulate, bright, sensitive individual who seems eager to give himself a chance to justify his being picked number one."

Even Ellison allowed that it was somewhat strange.

"To be honest, I was surprised," he said. "But they're trying to make moves. {The Kings are} trying to better their ballclub and Washington's trying to better their ballclub . . . I've got nothing negative to say about Sacramento. I was comfortable with the management there."

Specifically, Bill Russell, the former general manager. It was Russell who held out and made Ellison the top pick, and when Russell was dismissed during the season, Ellison lost his chief advocate in the organization. Dick Motta became the coach, with a different agenda.

"I knew when Mr. Russell was fired, there were definitely going to be some changes in the organization," Ellison said. "Coach Motta, he has the type of personality that he really wants what's best for his franchise. He made his decision. He said he isn't going to lose any sleep over it, and I'm definitely not going to lose any sleep over it."

When the trade was announced, Sacramento's director of player personnel, Jerry Reynolds, said: "We would really have liked to see more from Pervis. . . . Obviously, if you're totally satisfied with someone, you don't trade him."

Neither Ellison nor Unseld was certain if he would participate in Washington's rookie camp, set for mid-July. Ellison said he'll be coming to the area for good around July 15.

Whatever he does, he's going to have to add muscle, Unseld said: "I don't think it's as much weight as it is strength. He's going to have to put on some mass. . . . He's going to have to live {in the weight room} and get some nutritioning."