All-ACC forward Tom Gugliotta reportedly spent last weekend in Athens, Greece, investigating his latest basketball option with PAOK of the Greek Professional League. But Washington Bullets general manager John Nash said yesterday he has no intention of trading rights to the club's first-round draft choice to another NBA team.
"At this point in time, I'm not interested in trading Gugliotta for an average player or a future draft pick who would not be able to help us this coming season," said Nash. "We plan to retain his rights. If he is still not signed by February, then we might contemplate a trade."
Nash said he is "not encouraged" by the fact that Gugliotta has yet to sign with one of his European suitors. Nash spent considerable time on his just-completed two-week vacation talking to Gugliotta's agent, Richard Howell of Atlanta, but said no progress has been made in their summer-long negotiations.
The Bullets, because of serious salary cap restrictions, have not improved their last offer of $780,000 (forward Ledell Eackles' salary slot) to Gugliotta. Howell rejected their original offer of a five-year pact worth $10.7 million, including a first-year figure of $1.35 million.
In shopping the 6-foot-10 forward from North Carolina State around Europe, Howell already has received bids from Stefanel in Trieste, Italy, and FC Barcelona in Spain, in excess of $1 million a year in tax-free revenue plus the usual perks of a free luxury car and condo.
Howell, who has insisted that Gugliotta has "a number of options" to play in Europe, then began talks with PAOK, a power in the Greek league, which is considered several notches below Italy and Spain in overall basketball talent.
In the summer of 1989, Howell also conferred with PAOK on behalf of Georgia Tech forward Tom Hammonds, a first-round draft choice who ultimately signed a multi-year deal with the Bullets. Last February, the Bullets traded Hammonds to the Charlotte Hornets for shooting guard Rex Chapman.
In seeking more room under the salary cap to satisfy Gugliotta, Nash often has heard forward John Williams mentioned as a solution.
Williams, who would earn $1.1 million this season, is currently under medical suspension for being overweight. He was not paid while sitting out all of last season.
"John Williams is untradeable," said Nash. "Anyone who saw him play in Los Angeles this summer knows he is in no condition to compete in the NBA."
A possible June deal with the Los Angeles Clippers evaporated when Williams refused to be examined by the Clippers' medical staff.
"We're talking to a lot of teams about possible deals," said Nash. "But we can't take a significant salary back because of our present situation.
"A lot of other NBA teams are now in the same predicament. We had a real chance to sign Gugliotta before having to match [the New York Knicks' $17.1 million] offer to Harvey Grant. But Howell apparently didn't take our situation seriously."
Reported to be in New York yesterday, Howell could not be reached for comment.