Free agent forward Grant Long may be leaning toward signing with the Washington Wizards in part because of recent lobbying by team owner Abe Pollin, according to Long's agent, Charles Tucker.
"Abe Pollin was very honorable and very respectful," Tucker said. "He was impressed because that said a lot about how they feel about him."
Pollin joined General Manager Wes Unseld and Coach Gar Heard in trying to persuade Long to break a supposed oral commitment to the Vancouver Grizzlies last week. Long will decide whether to play for Washington or Vancouver no later than Thursday, Tucker said.
"He's got to pull the string within the next two days," Tucker said last night. "He told both teams not to wait on him because this is a family situation that he's got to deal with."
Several sources who have spoken to Long said his wife would prefer for him to play in Vancouver while Long, 33, isn't quite sold on playing in Canada for a young team that is not likely to be a playoff contender.
There also is a chance Long would not start for Vancouver, which just acquired forward Othella Harrington in a trade from Houston. The 6-foot-9 Long would be the final piece to Washington's veteran starting lineup of Rod Strickland, Mitch Richmond, Juwan Howard and Ike Austin.
The Wizards and Grizzlies both have offered Long a three-year, $6.6 million deal.
If Washington fails to secure Long, it likely will pursue Charlotte Hornets free agent forward Chucky Brown. The Wizards had some interest in Chicago Bulls free agent Dickey Simpkins, but Simpkins is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Bulls today or Thursday, according to his agent, Sean Holley.
Brown, 31, also is being pursued by the Grizzlies in case Long opts to play for the Wizards.
It is uncertain whether Washington would offer Brown, who at 6-8 can play both forward spots, a similar contract to the one offered to Long. Brown's agent, William Neff, said Brown probably would not sign with Washington for anything less than $2 million a year.