EMMITSBURG, MD., OCT. 4 -- Washington Bullets forward John Williams did not take a scheduled mandatory physical in Washington today and the team is awaiting an explanation for his absence.

In the latest strange development in this strange story, the Bullets thought Williams would come to Washington on Wednesday, then take the physical today in the office of team physician Steve Haas. But Williams apparently was still in Los Angeles today and the team wasn't sure when he'd arrive in Washington.

General Manager John Nash spoke with Williams's agent, Fred Slaughter, this morning. Slaughter told Nash it was also his understanding that Williams had left Los Angeles Wednesday and was on his way. But Williams made no appearance in Haas's office.

"I called just to verify that John was indeed coming," Nash said tonight. Slaughter "said he thought he left {Wednesday}. I said, 'Okay, just double-checking.' "

Nash left messages with Slaughter this afternoon, and Slaughter called the Bullets' office and left a message there. But Nash is with the team here at Mount St. Mary's.

Slaughter did not return phone calls today.

"We'll wait and see," Nash said. "I don't want to speculate as to what happened. I'd rather wait and hear what John says. He may have had a family emergency. I'd like to speak to John and see what the situation is.

"It's been my experience that you don't deal with these things through the media and have any success before you deal with the player."

The Bullets are trying their best not to publicly blast their young, potential star, but there are rumblings within the organization about how long the team can put up with him -- or whether Williams wants to put up with the team.

The other 19 players now in camp have passed the rudimentary physical that gives them medical clearance to work out. But Williams's injury (he tore two knee ligaments last season) make his physical problematic. The team has not been expecting Williams to pass because he isn't yet at a weight -- 260-270 pounds -- at which it would be safe to play.

Four of the 10 veterans -- Darrell Walker, Mark Alarie, Tom Hammonds and Harvey Grant -- practiced today. Steve Colter, Charles Jones, Bernard King and Pervis Ellison got in tonight for a team meeting.

Ledell Eackles is still holding out.

Williams is still not being paid, as he was not working to rehabilitate his knee in Los Angeles earlier this summer. After missing several weeks of rehab at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic, Williams began going again two weeks ago.

There aren't specific times for players to take physicals. Generally, they inform the team when they get into town and the team informs Haas. Haas's Chevy Chase and District offices were staffed and waiting for Williams all day, but he never arrived.

Williams "has instructions as to what to do," Nash said today. "We sent a letter to Fred that Fred gave to John."

Because the Bullets have stopped paying Williams, there's really nothing else of a punitive nature they can do. Basically, all they can do is wait for him to show up.

Nash didn't want to discuss his response if Williams continues to miss appointments.

"We'll deal with that when the time comes," he said. "We have every expectation that he's going to be here and we're approaching it from that standpoint. . . . What we're considering is getting John back as quickly as possible, with the assurances from our doctors that when he's cleared he'll be able to participate safely."

Bullets Notes:

Nash and Eackles' agent, Eddie Sapir, broke their long silence today and discussed Eackles' holdout, which officially will begin Friday. Specific numbers weren't mentioned, Nash said, but Sapir indicated a general willingness to come down from some of his demands.

Sapir told the Baltimore Sun Wednesday that he would no longer use deferred money as an issue. Sapir has said the Bullets are looking to defer up to 30 percent of Eackles' proposed salary.

The two sides hadn't actually spoken to each other in almost six weeks. What communication there was was by fax.

"It was the sort of conversation we should have had in July," Nash said of today's talk.