EMMITSBURG, MD., OCT. 19 -- Holdout guard Ledell Eackles said today that, though he would like to play for the Washington Bullets this season, he's willing to hold out all year if he can't get the kind of contract he wants.

"If the Judge {his agent, Eddie Sapir} says 'Ledell, stay out,' then I'm staying out," Eackles said. "It would hurt me because I would want to play, but I'd just have to stay out. The only thing I'm asking for is the fair price of what the players are getting today."

Just an hour or so after his teammates left on a charter flight to Canada for games this weekend against Indiana, Eackles showed up at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. It was mere coincidence, but indicative of how the two sides have been missing each other all summer.

In his first public statements in several weeks, Eackles, a restricted free agent, expressed a strong desire to have a new contract done quickly. He also said he "wasn't scared" about signing a one-year contract, if it would speed up the negotiations.

He's so anxious to have it over with that he flew up from New Orleans today and plans to spend a few days at his local apartment just in case anything breaks.

But Bullets General Manager John Nash said before he left on the charter that there have been no new developments this week, other than "a couple of proposals" made to Sapir.

Those involved incentives "that would have enabled {Eackles} to earn significantly more money if he turned out to be the player that the Judge thinks he is," Nash said. "We tried to accommodate some of his desires, but haven't been able to reach an accord. And we don't know that we've got any more proposals to make."

The Bullets were hoping to plug Eackles into Jeff Malone's spot in the starting lineup, an even more important action with John Williams out indefinitely. Eackles averaged 13.5 points in 78 games last season. Without him in camp, the Bullets don't have three of their top four scorers from last year.

Eackles took exception with Washington's contention that he's never started, and thus doesn't deserve starter's compensation. They've used as evidence the Bullets' 1-7 record in games Eackles did start last season.

"The Bullets know I haven't started," he said, "but when I did, I've done my job. I held up. I gave them what Jeff {Malone} would give them when he was there. We lost {seven} games but that's not my fault. I went out there and I played. I did what I had to do. . . . I did what they told me to do when I started. And they say I haven't started yet. They didn't draft me to start; they drafted me to back up Jeff Malone.

"I went out and played two years. I had to split 12 minutes with about three players, and in two years I gave them more than what I was supposed to have been giving them. And I didn't complain. I just went out and played. I loved the game and I went out to win every night."

Eackles looked reasonably fit.

"I'm fine," he said. "I want to hurry up and get back in camp. I've been running, training and everything {in New Orleans}. But running on the track and running for basketball conditioning, that's two different things. I would like to get a lot of that in before I start playing."

Sapir and Nash finally started negotiating in earnest only about two weeks ago, after a summer of no communication. Eackles originally wanted $8 million over four years; the Bullets countered with $2.8 million over four.

Neither side came off its offer for weeks, but it's believed that Sapir blinked first, as he discussed $5.5 million over four years as a possible starting point earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Bullets' off-guard play has suffered. They are hoping that Eackles can get taken care of before they are forced to make a move.

Eackles tried to be diplomatic.

"It ain't getting nowhere," he said. "I'm not in camp, I'm not going to camp without no contract. The guards that are there, they might be playing hard. I'm not trying to knock them in any way. But I see that they haven't been getting the job done. As long as I'm out, I just don't know. It's just a messed-up situation. I want to be there, the Bullets want me there."