NEW YORK, NOV. 8 -- Harvey Grant has spent a few evenings on the telephone in the last week talking to his friend John Williams. He liked what he heard from the injured forward.

"He's determined to come back and take out the burden that people have been giving him -- flak about being overweight," said Grant. "He's determined to come back and show people he hasn't lost it."

Grant said Williams has been taken a little aback by the shower of criticism that has rained on him over the last several weeks. Saturday night, in Washington's home opener, Williams was booed by many in the sellout crowd, a response that might have been expected from most following Williams's situation.

"He's reading all the negative stuff about him," Grant said. "When people start writing that every day, sooner or later it takes a toll on you as a person. Then you start to doubt yourself. But since he's come back, he's worked hard and he's {going} to get in the groove." Knicks Quiet on Ewing

The Knicks are trying to keep as tight a lid as possible on their negotiations with Patrick Ewing.

Ewing, who will make $4 million this season, has gone public with his anger that his contract has yet to be redone.

According to the terms of his present contract, if he isn't one of the four top-paid players in the league this season, he can become a restricted free agent. Currently, three players make more.

The Knicks aren't publicly commenting on the negotiations.

"We have been aware that he had that clause in his contract," General Manager Al Bianci said. "Everybody's evaluating their {salary} structure. Teams are extending contracts. In all fairness to Patrick, as opposed to players who already have contracts, he has a situation that has to be addressed by the end of next year." Walker Returns as Starter

As expected, Darrell Walker started at guard last night against the Knicks. . . .

Four Bullets are on the ballot for the all-star game Feb. 10 in Charlotte: Walker, Bernard King, Williams and Ledell Eackles. Jeff Malone was the last Washington all-star.