Gugliotta has no contract in Italy Team president says there is agreement


The Washington Bullets apparently are still in the hunt for first-round draft choice Tom Gugliotta after the team president of Stefanel confirmed yesterday that the 6-foot-10 forward from North Carolina State has yet to sign a contract with the Italian League basketball franchise.

"Mr. Gugliotta has not agreed to terms," Renzo Crosato said when reached at his home near Venice. "We have an agreement, so to speak, but no official contract in our hands."

Gugliotta and his agent, Richard Howell of Atlanta, met with Crosato and team owner Joseph Stefanel in Trieste, Italy, earlier this month. According to reports, Stefanel offered the All-Atlantic Coast Conference forward a two-year deal worth more than $2 million, plus a free condo and car. He would have the option to end the contract after one year.

Crosato would not specify terms of the offer to Gugliotta.

Crosato said a U.S.-based attorney for Stefanel, a leading European clothing conglomerate, has been conferring with Howell "by phone and fax" every day to try to complete the deal.

"For us, the situation is day-to-day," Crosato said. "Our team has been in training camp since July 20, and we begin our regular season Sept. 20. We are anxious to have Gugliotta join us as soon as possible. Our big advantage is that we are not restricted by a salary cap."

Howell had rejected the Bullets' original offer to Gugliotta of $10.7 million for five years, including $1.35 million this season. Once the Bullets matched the New York Knicks' $17.1 million offer sheet to veteran forward Harvey Grant, they far exceeded their 1992 salary cap of $14 million.

By not re-signing swingman Ledell Eackles, the Bullets would free $780,000 in their cap. But general manager John Nash has been seeking different ways to sweeten the offer to Gugliotta, who averaged 22.5 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Wolfpack his senior season.

A team source said that Nash and team owner Abe Pollin spoke by conference call with Howell and Gugliotta on Thursday, but no progress was reported.

Stefanel is restricted to having two foreign players on their roster.

"That is another reason to resolve this [Gugliotta contract] as soon as possible," Crosato said. "If we fail to sign him, we are interested in obtaining another American or Yugoslav player.

"But I believe Mr. Gugliotta would benefit by playing at least a year in Italy. We play very competitive basketball. But I realize it is the dream of every American player to ultimately play in the NBA."

Nash, who left for a two-week vacation Friday, could not be reached for comment. Gugliotta and Howell were also unavailable.

Howell also represents the Bullets' second-round pick, guard Brent Price of Oklahoma. Salary negotiations for Price began last week.

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