Washington Wizards first-round draft pick Richard Hamilton will not play in this week's summer league games in Boston, a decision Coach Gar Heard called disappointing.
"The more he plays against this type of competition and the more he can learn about our system, the better off he will be," Heard said today after Washington defeated New Jersey, 93-90. "They had Eric Murdock and Elliot Perry out there today, guards with a lot of NBA experience. Going against them wouldn't hurt.
"I'm disappointed he's not here. Hopefully we can get him out here before this thing is over this week but I don't think so."
Hamilton, the seventh pick overall from the University of Connecticut, was unavailable to comment. He returned to his home in Coatesville, Pa., on Monday after spending the previous three weeks with the U.S. national team, which won the gold medal at the Tournament of the Americas in Puerto Rico.
Hamilton's agent, Al Irby, did not return phone messages.
Team sources said Washington was not given a reason for Hamilton's absence. Heard said he suspected that the shooting guard is still nursing a sprained right ankle he suffered nearly two weeks ago. The injury caused Hamilton to miss all 10 games in the Tournament of the Americas, where the U.S. team qualified for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
U.S. head coach Larry Brown said Hamilton apologized to him for not being able to compete. Hamilton, Wally Szczerbiak and Elton Brand were the only rookies on the national team. Three NBA veterans will replace them for the Olympics.
There also was some thought by two members of Wizards management that Hamilton bypassed this week's competition because he has yet to sign his three-year, $5.9 million contract. Before Hamilton agreed to terms last week, Irby said Hamilton would not play in the summer league until his client signed his contract.
Once signed, the contract is guaranteed even if Hamilton is injured during the summer exhibition games. Hamilton said last week that he expected to sign his contract Aug. 1, even though he has had opportunities to sign it earlier, according to a team source.
Even if Hamilton could not or did not want to play, it still would have been in his best interest to be with the team to learn the system being implemented by Heard, said a member of Washington's management.
Wizards Notes: Forward Randell Jackson scored 12 of his game-high 20 points to rally Washington from a 19-point deficit in its victory today over the Nets. Guards Chucky Atkins and James Collins combined for 29 points and forward Jason Osborne added 15. . . .
Second-round draft pick Calvin Booth, a center from Penn State, was in the starting lineup today. Booth blocked a shot, grabbed four rebounds and scored six points, the last pair coming on a tip-in to give Washington the lead for good at 91-90. . . .
Former Washington center Gheorghe Muresan was on New Jersey's roster but did not play because of a hip flexor. Muresan spent the final two games of last season with the Nets and has been working out with the team all summer. He is expected to be offered a minimum-salary contract if he is healthy. The Wizards are not believed to have an interest in re-signing Muresan. . . .
The Nets have three former George Washington stars on their summer league team. Guard Shawnta Rogers had eight points, two assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes against the Wizards. Forward Yegor Mescheriakov finished with two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes and center Alexander Koul, who played professionally last season in Turkey, finished with six points and two rebounds.