EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., NOV. 12 -- The Washington Bullets finally ended their summer of discontent today by signing holdout Ledell Eackles to a two-year contract believed to be for around $1.5 million.

The third-year guard will be temporarily placed on the NBA's suspended list, at the team's request, until he can get in to playing shape. Within five days Washington will have to cut someone from its roster to activate Eackles.

"I'm happy everything is over with," Eackles said from his suburban Washington home last night. "I'm just ready to get back with it. I'm not disappointed. I told the Judge {his agent, Eddie Sapir} I wanted to go back in and cut the best deal you can."

Sapir originally asked a four-year contract worth $8 million. The Bullets balked and offered $2.8 million over four. That created an impasse until training camp began in October.

Gradually, Sapir came down in his requests to General Manager John Nash, with the Bullets playing hardball. He agreed last month to discuss a two-year deal and the difference closed in the last few days, even after Eackles orally agreed to a deal with owner Abe Pollin Nov. 2, then changed his mind.

"There was some miscommunication on my part," Eackles said last night. "That's all it was. I talked to Abe {last week} and we got that all behind us. We started off with a new relationship. . . . It wasn't the best deal but I wanted to get back in, so I took a cut. I'm not hurting in any way {financially}. If it's meant for me it'll come later."

It was critical that the Bullets keep Eackles' salary in line with their others, which start at Pervis Ellison's $1.8 million and, now, decline reasonably.

"I guess it's fair to say," Nash said, "because there was no way it was going to be out of whack. With the realities of the salary cap you can ill afford to pay people what you don't feel is fair because it does affect a lot of other people and it does eat up cap space, as the Knicks are finding out with Patrick Ewing."

Eackles began working out today at 9 a.m. with assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik and worked well into the night, running sprints (from 440s on down) and the Bullets' mandatory 1 1/2-mile run. The 6-foot-3 off-guard will do two-a-days through the end of the week to try to get somewhere close to his 225-pound playing weight of last season.

"He looks as expected," Bzdelik said last night, "having not done anything. Let's face it, agents aren't going to let you work out as you should because of fear of injury, so all you do is sit. He's got a ways to go but he's not as bad as I thought."

"To have another offensive player like Ledell in the lineup is going to be a tremendous benefit," said Bernard King, second in the league at 31.5 points per game and as a result ganged up on defensively.

"Just having him on the floor will create shots for everyone. You won't be able to key on one person. It's good for me but more importantly it's good for the team. We've been in a few close games and someone like Ledell's another option down the stretch."

The Bullets don't have to use the entire five days to decide, but might want a last hard look at guards Larry Robinson and Haywoode Workman, their most disposable (read: unguaranteed money) players.

"It's been rough," Eackles said of watching the Bullets. "Some days . . . I had to turn the TV off because I was so mad at myself. They were playing hard but just couldn't get over the edge. It was a painful feeling."