The Washington Bullets have made what they call their final offer to first-round draft choice Tom Gugliotta, a five-year contract worth $10.725 million that general manager John Nash characterized as the biggest in the team's history.
But Richard Howell, the Atlanta-based agent of the 6-foot-10 forward from North Carolina State, said he prefers to wait and see what the market will pay the Nos. 2 through 5 picks.
The Bullets had hoped to sign Gugliotta, the sixth player chosen in the 1992 NBA draft, in time for the opening of their mini-camp at Bowie State this weekend and before having to match the New York Knicks' $17.8 million offer sheet to forward Harvey Grant.
On Tuesday, the Bullets charged the Knicks and Grant's agent, Jim Sexton of Atlanta, with tampering in approaching Grant before July 1.
This issue will be reviewed by an independent arbitrator Tuesday.
"If we have to re-sign Grant first," said Nash, "we won't be able to offer Gugliotta anything close to what is presently on the table.
"We have given him everything we have in terms of room in our salary cap, and increased our offer to the maximum. We can't offer Gugliotta anything more, nor do we want to."
Though Nash said the $10.725 million offer would be the Bullets' top contract "in total dollars," the team inherited a bigger contract via trade.
The Bullets are responsible for the last four years of the $11.8 million contract center Pervis Ellison signed with the Sacramento Kings in 1989, when he was the first player chosen in the draft.
While Nash considers signing Gugliotta his top priority, a contract for second-round draft pick Brent Price of Oklahoma has been placed on hold.
"We would hope that Brent will come to our mini-camp unsigned and show us that he is a bona fide NBA player," said Nash of the 6-1 point guard. "If he does that, we would work to try and make some room in our cap for him."
It is highly unlikely that either Gugliotta or Price will appear in mini-camp without a contract despite Nash's citing that the Bullets' draft choices the past two years did participate in the three-day summer sessions.
NOTES: Ed Sapir, the New Orleans-based agent of Ledell Eackles, said yesterday that the Bullets have not renounced the 6-5 swingman, but simply had not extended him a qualifying offer worth an estimated $900,000. The difference is that the Bullets can choose to re-sign Eackles if another team does not sign him first. . . . Alan Srebnick, who served as an advance scout for the Bullets the past four seasons, has accepted a job as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons and their new head coach, Ron Rothstein.