Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin said yesterday he is using "back channels" to try to resolve the team's dispute with forward John Williams, and may go to Los Angeles in the next few days to speak with the injured Bullet.

In his first public comment on the matter, Pollin said in a telephone interview that he had "high hopes" of settling the issue. The Bullets suspended payment to Williams in mid-July because the team claimed he had not been rehabilitating his injured right knee. Williams's offseason weight, long an issue between him and the team, has only exacerbated matters.

"John Williams is a key," Pollin said. "He's our best player. We've had problems getting him straightened out. I have very high hopes that John will be straightened out . . . I am going to get involved. I've got things working right now. This is not the Middle East, obviously. But I am working on some back channels. I am involved in the John Williams thing personally, and I will do whatever it takes for me personally, including going out there."

Pollin said there are "other parties involved" in efforts to reach Williams.

"And I will go out to L.A. if I think it's worth going, and I think it might be," he said. "I like John Williams as a human being. A very fine young man, besides being a great basketball player. I'd hate to see John jeopardize his career."

Williams went to Los Angeles during the summer to rehabilitate at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic. But General Manager John Nash said Thursday that Williams missed sessions in June, forcing Washington's non-payment decision, and he hasn't been to the clinic to work in the last month.

Williams has not yet filed a grievance with the NBA Players' Association, though he and his agent, Fred Slaughter, met with Nash and Coach Wes Unseld last month. Pollin, however, said he was not concerned about the possibility of an arbitration case.

"I don't care about arbitration," he said. "That doesn't bother me. And I don't want his money. What I want him to do is get straightened out. Because what we're doing is right, and what he's doing is wrong. What he needs to do is get straightened out and get back on an even keel and do what he should be doing. All we want him to do is be the John Williams he's capable of being, for himself and us."

Pollin also was at a loss to understand his player.

"It's really a mystery to me," he said. "I can't really fathom why he's acting the way he is. It does hurt me more because I have a relationship with each of my players, including John. I would feel very sad for him if he let his career slide and not do what he should be doing."

In other developments, the Bullets have flatly rejected renegotiation feelers put out by starting point guard Darrell Walker, and are more than $5 million apart with restricted free agent guard Ledell Eackles with 3 1/2 weeks remaining before the start of training camp.

Eackles is not budging off his request for a four-year, $8 million offer, figures reported last week in The Washington Times. The Bullets have countered with $2.8 million over four, and asked Eackles to contact other teams to get an evaluation of his worth. So far, according to Eackles's agent, Judge Eddie Sapir of New Orleans, the only club he's talked to is the Lakers.

"We're not comfortable {about the possibility of negotiations running into training camp}," Nash said, "but because we don't have another proven two-guard, I'm not going to pay a guy three times what he's worth."

Walker, the Bullets' captain the past two seasons, is looking to redo a deal that has three years remaining. He had career highs in rebounds, assists, minutes and field goal percentage last season and is the sixth-highest paid player on the team, having made just more than $600,000 last season.

Walker's salary is 21st among NBA point guards, according to compensation documentation obtained by The Washington Post. To put it in context in the increasingly volatile league salary structure, though he makes as much or more than Rod Strickland, Tim Hardaway and Gary Grant, among others, he makes less than Sam Vincent, Nate McMillan and Sedale Threatt.

Walker was the winner of the Allstate Good Hands Award, a ratio of rebounds, assists, steals and turnovers. Only he and Dallas's Fat Lever finished in the top 20 in the league in rebounds, assists and steals among guards.

Reached at his Arkansas home, Walker had no comment; nor did his agent, Kevin Scanlon of Little Rock.

Said Nash: "This team hasn't been in the playoffs for a couple of years. This isn't the time to redo deals. If we were to do it for one player you would expect 11 more to knock on the door."