With no firm counteroffer forthcoming from Europe, NBA lottery choice Tom Gugliotta and his agent have renewed talks with the Washington Bullets this week after rejecting last month's offer of a five-year contract worth $10.725 million.
Bullets general manager John Nash confirmed yesterday that Gugliotta -- a 6-foot-10 forward from North Carolina State who was the sixth player chosen in the 1992 draft -- and his agent, Richard Howell of Atlanta, visited the team's Capital Centre office Tuesday.
"We didn't have any serious contract negotiations," Nash said. "The prime purpose of the visit was to give Tom a chance to meet [team owner] Abe Pollin, who was not here when Tom came to Washington in June."
A player's agent familiar with the European basketball market said Howell has been actively shopping Gugliotta around Italy, but has not found a professional team ready to match the Bullets' first-year offer of $1.345 million that would have escalated to $2.945 million in the fifth year of the deal.
Nash had warned Howell that substantially less money would be available to the All-ACC choice in the team's salary cap once the Bullets were forced to match the New York Knicks' six-year, $17.1 million offer sheet to forward Harvey Grant.
By doing so July 17, the Bullets exceeded the $14 million cap by an estimated $2 million. And this figure could rise an additional $500,000 tomorrow if Washington matches the San Antonio Spurs' four-year, $2.6 million offer to second-year forward Larry Stewart of Coppin State.
As things now stand, the top figure the Bullets could offer Gugliotta would be the $780,000 salary slot held by Ledell Eackles, who was not offered a contract.
"We could sign Gugliotta at that figure for a year, and then offer him substantially more next season," said Nash. "But we had made that same kind of proposal a month ago when we had $1.345 million available in our cap before re-signing Grant."
Eackles could take the decision out of the Bullets' hands by beating Gugliotta to Europe.
"We've been negotiating with PAOK, a team in Greece," said Eackles' agent, Ed Sapir.
Neither Howell nor Gugliotta could be reached for comment.
Howell also represents the Bullets' second-round pick, guard Brent Price of Oklahoma, who did not receive a contract offer.
"We wanted Price to show he belonged in the NBA by coming to our minicamp," said Nash.