NEW YORK -- The Washington Bullets, who already have lost all five of their starters to injury for at least several games this season, received more discouraging news yesterday, when general manager John Nash estimated that neither Bernard King nor Mark Alarie would return to action until after the NBA All-Star Game Feb. 9.
King and Alarie started the season on the injured list after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last September. The two veteran forwards have experienced pain when trying to run, delaying their rehabilitation.
King, who turned 35 Friday, spoke to Nash a week ago and informed him that he could not run without discomfort in his right knee.
"Usually, arthroscopic surgery is considered a minor operation, and we might have expected King back by now," said Nash. "He had an operation on the same knee when he was playing at the University of Tennessee.
"But King's surgeon [Dr. Norman Scott of New York] reminded me that we're dealing now with a knee of a 35-year-old, not a 25-year-old college kid."
Last year, King culminated a comeback from reconstructive knee surgery that had sidelined him for almost two complete seasons (1985-87) as a New York Knick. King averaged 28.4 points for the Bullets, third-best in the NBA, and was voted to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
But King injured his lower back against the New Jersey Nets on March 25, and sat out the last 14 games.
"Alarie told me he is making some improvement, but still can't really put a lot of weight on his knee," said Nash.
A key frontcourt reserve two seasons, ago, Alarie, who turns 28 tomorrow, appeared in 42 games last season, when he was bothered by eye and knee injuries. He played his last game Feb. 15, experiencing tendinitis in his knee, and was placed on the injured list.
Alarie underwent surgery to repair a retinal tear in May after complaining of blurred vision.
With Alarie and King missing this season, the Bullets have had little room to maneuver with their more recent injuries. The third -- and last -- spot is occupied by No. 1 draft pick LaBradford Smith, whose sprained left ankle has restricted him to five minutes of action.