SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. Va. -- The Washington Bullets traded one problem last night and may have inherited another.
John Williams' tumultuous six-year career with the Washington Bullets ended about midnight when the 6-foot-9 forward was sent to the Los Angeles Clippers for 7-foot-1 center William Bedford, a classic under-achiever as a pro, and rookie forward Don MacLean, the 19th pick of the draft out of UCLA.
The Bullets and Clippers have been talking for months about a possible deal involving Williams, who was suspended without pay last season for being grossly overweight.
Recent conversations between Bullets coach Wes Unseld and Clippers counterpart Larry Brown got the trade talk "off the back burner," according to general manager John Nash, who completed negotiations last night with Clippers front office boss Elgin Baylor.
Both Unseld and Nash acknowledged that ridding the team of Williams' persistent problems was almost as much a consideration as obtaining Bedford, who also comes with more JTC than his share of off-the-court problems, and the 6-foot-10 MacLean, whose unimpressive showing in the 1992 NCAA West Regional final caused him to drop in the draft.
"We had an opportunity to go for it," said Nash. "We had to determine if it was in our best interest to retain John and worry about going through the same scenario we have the past few years in trying to get him in playing condition."
Bedford, who was the sixth player chosen overall in 1986 by the Phoenix Suns after starring at Memphis State, has averaged only 4.2 points and fewer than two rebounds a game in a limited reserve role.
Bedford and Williams, who was to earn $1.2 million this coming season, will exchange salary slots. The Bullets must still sign MacLean, who could fill the $780,000 slot vacated by unsigned swing man Ledell Eackles.