Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin said yesterday that the team was "getting closer" to signing holdout guard Ledell Eackles, as negotiations have resumed between General Manager John Nash and Eackles's agent, Eddie Sapir.

Pollin talked with Eackles last week in an attempt to finalize a deal. He wouldn't say, but sources indicate that he had worked out a verbal agreement on a two-year deal with Eackles, only to have the guard change his mind Monday upon consultation with Sapir.

When told word was the sides were close last week, Pollin said, "I thought so too. But sometimes when you think you're close, sometimes the message may have been a little garbled. But we think we're going to be done soon."

Sapir is in Texas at a convention. "But I've got his number," Nash said. English on the Ball

Guard A.J. English had another solid game Thursday against the Knicks with 15 points on seven-of-13 shooting. In the regular season, he's 16 of 36 from the floor, averaging 12.7 points per game. That would put him in the top five among rookies in scoring in the league.

"I'm getting more comfortable," English said. "We wouldn't make some of the same mistakes we made {Thursday} later on down the road."

The education of forward-center Pervis Ellison continued Thursday with a few trips up and down the floor against Patrick Ewing.

"You learn something every game," Ellison said. "Coming down the floor, he'll run right into you to get to that box. The most physical person I've played against so far has been {Cleveland's} Brad Daugherty. He'll take his time, back you as far in as he can. Patrick's a little more athletic."

Ewing didn't score until 5:41 was left in the first half Thursday, but he then scored 14 points before the half ended.

"He's got to learn to make those adjustments," Coach Wes Unseld said of Ellison. "Right now people are sitting down on him, sealing him in the paint area. He'll learn those things. It just takes time."