Chapman to miss at least 5 games while waiting for heel to heal


LANDOVER -- Shooting guard Rex Chapman, acquired from the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday for forward Tom Hammonds, will start his new NBA life as a Washington Bullet on the injured list.

Chapman passed a two-day physical examination by the Bullets medical staff, but his bruised left heel will keep him idle for a minimum of five games.

The former University of Kentucky star, who was the first player drafted by the expansion Hornets in 1988, had missed the past 31 games with Charlotte while nursing his sore foot. He has discouraged talk of possible surgery, preferring to try treatment and rest as a cure.

"I could go out right now and play a few games in a row, but the heel is still hurting and I don't want to risk further damage," said Chapman, who engaged in a shoot-around before last night's game against the Denver Nuggets.

When the trade was announced, Bullets general manager John Nash said he was not overly concerned whether Chapman would play the remainder of this season, but that the fourth-year guard, who will earn $8 million over the next four seasons, was a "long-term investment."

Chapman joins Bullets forwards Bernard King and Mark Alarie on the injured list. Both are recuperating from September arthroscopic knee surgery.

Unseld said of Chapman: "When I watched him at Kentucky, I thought this kid had as much about him at being a great pro guard as anybody I've seen. I thought he showed imagination, initiative and explosiveness that the great pro guards possess. He hadn't become programmed and robotic, and I want him to stay that way."

Hammonds, like Chapman, will begin his career with the Hornets on the injured list. The third-year forward is sidelined with a recurring groin pull.

After being introduced to his new team Thursday, Hammonds was surprisingly critical of Bullets coach Wes Unseld.

Said Hammonds: "In my three years with Washington, Wes changed the offense from half-court to motion and couldn't settle on what he wanted. It confused a lot of the players. I really didn't get a chance my first two years. This year, I did. People saw I could play, and that's why the Hornets got interested."

But Hornets coach Allan Bristow said he doesn't know where Hammonds fits into his rotation. "I'm not sure if he's a small or big forward," said Bristow.

NOTES: The Bullets have put renegotiating Harvey Grant's contract on back burner. Nash said this is at the request of Grant's agent, Jimmy Sexton of Memphis, Tenn., who said the veteran forward will have better bargaining power after a strong season.

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