Bullets' Workman accepts offer to play in Italian league


The Washington Bullets' overcrowded backcourt lost a candidate yesterday when Haywoode Workman signed a two-year contract to play for Pesaro Scavolini in the Italian Basketball League.

According to his agent, Frank Capatano, Pesaro more than doubled the Bullets' qualifying offer of $180,000 to Workman, who received the minimum NBA salary of $120,000 last season, when he made the team as a free agent.

Workman, 25, was in Italy this week trying out for Pesaro, which was searching for a proven pro guard after failing to acquire John Paxson, who re-signed with the Chicago Bulls last week.

"We were aware that negotiations were taking place with Haywoode," Bullets general manager John Nash said yesterday from Auburn Hills, Mich., where several young Bullets are playing a round-robin series with counterparts from the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets. "It was not in our best interest to compete with Pesaro. We wish Haywoode the best in Italy."

Workman was one of the major surprises with the Bullets last season, winning a starting job after playing most of the previous year in the Continental Basketball Association. He averaged eight points and five assists in 72 games, starting 56.

But the Oral Roberts graduate became expendable after the Bullets acquired veteran point guard Michael Adams from the Denver Nuggets and drafted Louisville's LaBradford Smith, who is capable of playing either backcourt position.

Washington has seven guards, but reserve Byron Irvin is without a guaranteed contract and eight-year veteran Darrell Walker has asked to be traded after the team decided not to rework his contract.

By not signing Workman, it will free money in the salary cap to sign Smith, who participated in rookie camp without a contract.

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