The Washington Bullets will find out what all the fuss has been about Thursday.

That's when John Williams will go into the Washington offices of Stephen Haas, one of the Bullets' physicians. During that examination Williams will give a little blood and have his blood pressure measured.

Then, Haas will take a look at Williams's injured right knee. And the Bullets will have an idea of where they are starting the 1990-91 season, which begins this week with training camp at Mount St. Mary's, because they'll know what to expect from their best player.

It has been a harrowing year for Williams. Tuesday is the 10-month mark of the fifth-year forward's tear of the medial collateral ligament and partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The Bullets decided against reconstructive surgery following an arthroscopic examination, placing Williams in an immobilizer and choosing an arduous rehabilitation process.

That was just the beginning. Williams and the Bullets soon were at loggerheads about his rehabilitation. He felt Washington was too pushy in checking on his progress, so the Bullets agreed to let him work out in his native Los Angeles under the supervision of Lakers physician Steve Lombardo. Soon, however, the Bullets were claiming he was missing sessions, and in mid-July, they stopped paying him.

Williams started going back to rehab with Lombardo 11 days ago, but the situation has left acrimonious feelings. And that doesn't even address the importance of his recovery to the Bullets' chances in the NBA season.

"So much revolves around when John will be ready," Bullets General Manager John Nash said. "It could be a very exciting team if John is available, because of the options his presence presents. The other guy that figures prominently is Ledell {Eackles}, if he's available. But we're not going to mortgage our future in either case."

Eackles will be a holdout, looking for a contract of $8 million over four years. The Bullets aren't budging from $2.8 million over four. As it is now, rookie A.J. English is the starting off-guard, which is not what Washington was expecting when it traded leading scorer Jeff Malone to Utah in the Pervis Ellison deal.

"Right now," Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said, "and this is what I told {owner Abe} Pollin, I couldn't tell you one way or the other. We've got some young talent, but we just have to wait and see what happens when they're put to the test."

Among the problems and questions before the Bullets begin the regular season Nov. 2 in Miami:Ellison, about whom little is known but much is expected, has to help take some of the rebounding burden off Darrell Walker, some of the scoring burden off Bernard King and some of the inside defensive burden off Charles Jones. That's a lot to expect from anyone, especially someone who's played just 34 NBA games and is going through his first training camp after being injured last year.

Eackles has to be re-signed, and then he must do much more than score 24 points a night, as Malone did. Tom Hammonds must rebound from a disappointing rookie season. Harvey Grant must continue his offensive development. Walker has to follow up on a season of career highs in rebounds, assists and steals. Rookies English and Greg Foster can't play like rookies. King must be durable and productive again.

It is a tall order for a team that was 31-51 last season and didn't have a first-round draft pick.

"You have to realize that there are some guys who are emerging," said King, who last season played in all 82 games for the first time since 1979. "Ledell can continue in that spot. Tom Hammonds will be improved over last year, so they're going to have more out of him. I don't think there's going to be more of a burden {on King}. Initially, teams are going to key on me."

But it's all moot if Williams doesn't return.

"If John Williams was healthy," Walker said, "Pervis Ellison, B.K., myself and Ledell Eackles, that's a pretty athletic team. We may not win 50 games but we could scare some people night in and night out. But the 19 points and everything else he does is hard to replace. Jeff Malone's 24 points is going to be hard to replace too."

The hope is that Eackles will soon be in camp and produce at Malone-like levels, that English will step in and score consistently, that Ellison will keep the new weight he's put on in the summer (he's up to 225 pounds), be the high-post passer and the back-line defender the Bullets need and that Walker (chronic Achilles' tendon soreness) and King can again stay healthy.

The reality is that with Eackles out and Williams not yet available, the Bullets are missing three of their top four scorers from last season -- 56 points a game -- from a team that allowed 109.9 points per game, fifth worst in the league.

"We've got a bunch of good guys and we played hard," Walker said of the after-Williams Bullets. "But it was obvious we missed John. We were two games under .500 when he got hurt. But he went down and that was that."

Said Unseld: "I just don't know about my older guys. I just don't know if they're going to be ready. John, specifically."

Rookies and free agents will report to Mount St. Mary's Monday night and start practice Tuesday. Veterans are to report Thursday night and begin workouts Friday. Washington's preseason opener is in New Haven against the Nets Oct. 13.