Don't expect much along the free agent market from the Washington Bullets, for at least 28 days. Like most NBA teams, Washington is pressing up against the salary cap, meaning there's not much room to maneuver until the cap goes up Aug. 1.

With Pervis Ellison taking $1.8 million from the till for the upcoming season, out of his contracted $8.2 million for the next four, Washington lost about $1 million worth of flexibility for next season. That can make the difference when it comes to free agents, in an era when $3 million per season for non-superstars is just around the corner.

"I've talked with a number of agents about their players, but from the standpoint of getting information," General Manager John Nash said after a news conference to introduce the Bullets' two second-round draft picks, center Greg Foster and guard A.J. English. "We don't have a hit list per se. We would be unable to do anything of a major nature before {Aug. 1}."

Free agency began in earnest Sunday, when players became restricted (meaning their team can match offers from other teams) and unrestricted (players having finished two contracts and five years in the league can sign with any team without it having to compensate the club they're departing).

Bullets guard Ledell Eackles is a restricted free agent, having completed his first professional contract, a two-year deal. Washington made him a qualifying offer of 25 percent above last season's salary -- as required by the collective bargaining agreement.

Eackles and his agent, Judge Eddie Sapir of New Orleans, are taking a look at the market. But the Bullets hadn't spoken with Sapir since Bob Ferry resigned June 19. Nash took care of that yesterday, after a whirlwind two weeks on the job.

"Really, what had caused the delay was just the transition," Nash said. "Me arriving, trying to catch up with what was going on in the league and trying to prepare for the draft.

"I think {Sapir} understood and I appreciated his indulgence. Obviously we didn't want to make Ledell a back-burner priority, but out of necessity, that may be what happened. We did qualify him, obviously, and now we're going to try and get serious."

Said Sapir: "I recognize that John has just ended a transition period there, taking over Bob's duties. We decided today to get together in a short period of time. We didn't say whether it would be two weeks or three weeks. We just knew we should be talking."

It would probably take an offer of historic proportions for the Bullets not to match any offer sheet that Eackles signed. With Jeff Malone traded, Eackles is the only experienced off-guard Washington has.

"It's difficult to evaluate Ledell today," Nash said, "because he's been a backup to a very, very good 'two' guard. When he's played, he's given indications that he can be a starter, and yet how do you pay him? Do you pay him as a backup or do you pay him as a starter?

"To me -- and I told the judge that I would pursue this -- Ledell should be considered a 24-minute player, because it's going to be my goal to get another player as good to rival Ledell. That makes the whole team better. . . . Ledell's presence is not going to prevent us from seeking out another quality two guard, by trade or free agency."

Sapir said that "it's fair to say I do not share that view."

That will be worked out in the next couple of weeks. Foster and English have about that time before rookie camp begins July 15. English said he "definitely" would be at camp; Foster said he would try to get back from the West Coast, where he's staying, as soon as possible.

Foster acknowledged that his averages from his senior season at Texas-El Paso -- 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds -- were not eye-openers, though he and the Bullets feel he improved greatly during the season. He played almost two seasons for the Miners after transferring early in his sophomore season from UCLA.

"My college basketball career was not brilliant as far as statistics go," he said. "At this level, the way I play, I feel like I can make great strides, to say the least. . . . I can play with anybody who came out in this draft, especially."

English's portfolio from Virginia Union is sparkling -- 31.4 points per game, Division II player of the year -- but it took solid play at postseason tournaments to convince NBA executives he could compete.

He already had faced tougher challenges. He flunked off his high school basketball team in the 10th grade, but was all-state his senior season. Because of his overall marks, he would have had to go to junior college before attending Villanova or Nevada-Las Vegas, his Division I schools of choice.

"I tend to think he can score," Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said. "I wouldn't get caught up in Roman numerals as to whether this guy can play or not. It's the degree of toughness. He can play. But is he tough enough to play at a different level of competition?"