Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin confirmed yesterday that injured forward John Williams has resumed club-sanctioned rehabilitation sessions for his right knee in Los Angeles, but said the club is not yet ready to resume payments to the fifth-year player.

The Bullets have been in contact with Williams in the last week through a member of the organization, "plus some others," Pollin said. He would not name names, but said the person's report made him "cautiously optimistic" about resolving the impasse.

"The report was that John is going to attempt to come back on target and get back in therapy," Pollin said. "We've got a report from our doctors out there that his knee is much improved. It's in the positive mode. They're very pleased where it's at. He's got a long way to go but we seem to be on the right track."

Pollin had said earlier this month that he was using "back channels" to get in touch with Williams. Williams's last face-to-face meeting with Bullets management -- General Manager John Nash and Coach Wes Unseld -- took place in early August in Los Angeles.

Williams has been back in rehabilitation at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic in Los Angeles for about a week. Pollin was not specific about Williams's current weight -- he said Williams had dropped some -- but the forward is reportedly between 280 and 295 pounds. The Bullets would like Williams to get closer to 260 so that his knee will not have to take the extra stress.

"I guess it's a step in the right direction," Nash said. "There's no sense chronicling each day. This is nothing new. He did this earlier this summer. And we won't really know until he comes in and our doctors are able to look at him."

Earlier this week, he spent two mornings at UCLA playing pick-up games with several NBA players from the Los Angeles area. Williams had been at UCLA earlier in the summer, and also had been working out with his former high school coach, Joe Weakley of Crenshaw High.

But the Bullets were not impressed with the sessions because they didn't address the actual rehabilitation of the knee.

Williams declined to comment to a reporter either day he played at UCLA. His agent, Fred Slaughter, did not return phone calls yesterday but said earlier in the week that Williams would "be ready to confront all the doubting Thomases" and return to action.

"He looks great," Slaughter said. "Mobile. Agile. He's doing the same thing this year that he did last year. He's going through things at his own pace."

Williams has not filed a grievance with the NBA Players Association about the Bullets' action, Pollin said.

But the club hasn't started paying Williams again, and Pollin gave no indication that the resumption of payments was imminent. Williams's first step is to pass the team physical given in Washington next Thursday before veterans are scheduled to report to training camp at Mount St. Mary's.

Nash expressed concern that Williams could get ready in time.

"I don't know if he can pass the physical," he said. "And if it's because he's not in NBA shape, that would fall back on him. But I don't want to get into hypotheticals."

Pollin would not set any timetable for when the Bullets would resume the payments, or any specific criteria that Williams could meet to satisfy the club. Williams has missed at least four checks, which would be a little more than $184,000 of his $1.2 million salary this season. Washington stopped paying Williams in mid-July.

"He's got to stay on the rehab for a while," Pollin said, "and lose the weight. It's going to depend on how he does and what his attitude is as well as his physical status. I've got to see how he progresses."

Until this week, Williams hadn't played at UCLA for almost a month, according to Adam Mills, who organizes the almost-daily meetings at Pauley Pavillion. Williams "looks like he has lost about 10 or 15 pounds," Mills said. "The first time I saw him {this summer}, he was really heavy."

At UCLA, Williams played without a knee brace. Although he limped at times on Tuesday, he moved better on Wednesday. For several minutes, Williams guarded Lakers all-star forward A.C. Green.

Special correspondent Marc Stein in Los Angeles contributed to this report.