Let's get the older sibling out of the way first. Albert King, how would you like to play with your big brother on the Washington Bullets?

"Who's that? Oh, Bernard," King said on the first day of the Bullets' rookie camp. Because Washington has one of the earlier starting times for rookie camps, Albert King decided to come down and work out with the 30 other free agents and rookies taking part in the festivities at Bowie State University.

Though he and Bernard have played on many an NBA squad, they've never played together in the eight seasons Albert's been in the league.

"That would be great," said Albert, the former University of Maryland all-American. "I could always get treated to dinner. But seriously, that's not something I think about right now, because that's not even where I'm at. Right now I'm at the first day of camp. This is the first chance I'm getting to play competitively.

"I've been working out with Bernard, playing one-on-one, two-on-two. But we haven't had a chance to run up and down the court. I just want to play basketball, play when I'm healthy. When I'm healthy, I think I can play."

Injuries have gotten in the way of Albert King's NBA career. They began in 1986, and his last couple of seasons have appeared to be a downward spiral -- a year in Philadelphia, 46 games in San Antonio, a two-month stay in Italy, before leveling off last season in Israel.

At 31, that's generally not the direction to go if you're trying to come back to the NBA. So, isn't he a long shot to be invited back to the Bullets in the fall?

"I'm a shot," he said after a two-hour practice. "A long shot, short shot, it doesn't really matter right now. There are 25, 30 guys in camp and everybody has a shot. I can only speak for myself. My attitude is, I have a shot. Long or short, that's for the coaches to evaluate."

He probably will show up in a another camp or two before the summer is out, as well as in the Los Angeles Summer League, which will begin Saturday. The Bullets have their reasons for bringing him to camp.

"I'm not trying to get a real look at him right now," Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said. "It's not hard to figure out what Albert King can do."

For half a dozen seasons in the early 1980s, he was a central cog in a young New Jersey Nets team on the way up. He started with Buck Williams, Darryl Dawkins and Micheal Ray Richardson on teams that made the playoffs five straight years. His scoring increased in the playoffs; he averaged better than 20 points per game in three of four postseasons.

But he was limited to 61 games in the 1987-88 season. By the end of the year the Nets had one of their many youth movements and he was allowed to go to Philadelphia as a free agent.

He averaged 7.2 points in 72 games for the 76ers, but didn't see much time at small forward there with a fellow named Barkley playing. He moved on to San Antonio but in training camp pulled a groin muscle and could never get going.

"I just didn't play well," he said. "I'm not going to put it on anything else. And when you're losing, when you're 20-50 or whatever, that's when they go with younger players."

He went to Italy to finish up the Italian League season, but a pulled stomach muscle kept him out of all but a couple of games for Philips Milan in 1988. He was there for 14 games before moving on to Hapeol Tel Aviv, one of a couple of good teams in Israel. He averaged 25.5 points for Hapeol last season.

"You always hear about the wars," he said. "In Tel Aviv, you don't see any of that. It's not New York, but it's a major city. Everyone speaks English. It's not what I thought it was. . . . We saw more of the lifestyle. It was very surprising. I liked it better than Italy as far as living. The competition wasn't as good, but, as far as the people, the lifestyle, the food, it was much better."

Bullets General Manager John Nash brought King to the 76ers in 1987 when Nash was the GM at Philadelphia. So he knew the type of player he was getting when he phoned King's agent, Eric Fleischer, on other business.

"I asked him if he had any {shooting} guards," Nash said. "He said 'You want Albert?' and I said sure, because of two reasons: to see if he's good enough to make the team, and because of his experience, he provides a pretty good barometer by which we can judge some of the other people. You know what Albert is; you know that he's a veteran NBA player."

Nash was told that sounded somewhat mercenary. He agreed.

"That's what this is," he said. "This is an audition. This is a cattle call, if you will. In cold terms, that's what it is. But the rewards are very great for those who achieve their goals."

Said Unseld: "We know he can play, but you've got to make an assessment as to what degree and what level. I don't think of it as using him as a barometer to measure others by. I will look at Albert King to see what Albert King can do."

Some harrumph when they're asked about the potential of a King-King partnership. Too early, they grumble. Albert King knows he's always going to hear about it, so he has to deal with it.

"He's my brother," he said. "We love each other, but we don't deal on terms as far as basketball. We deal as brothers. He's Bernard; I'm Albert. We look at it from that standpoint. . . . You can't let {questions} affect you. You have to look at it from another perspective, because I've been his brother for 30 years now."

Bullets Notes:

One of Washington's second-round picks, forward Greg Foster, is not in camp, choosing to spend the summer working in Los Angeles. The team was not surprised by his absence. . . . No cuts were made yesterday, but Unseld may start paring the roster today.

He expects to take 12 to 18 players to Detroit for the team's rookie tournament with the Pistons, Bucks and Pacers.