Bedford misses 3 of 4 practices, gets walking papers

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. — SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- The Washington Bullets released 7-foot-1 center William Bedford yesterday after he had missed three of his four scheduled practices with what he said was a hamstring pull.

"We decided that Bedford just didn't fit into our plans," general manager John Nash said.


His official stay with the Bullets lasted less than three days. The former Memphis State star was obtained last week from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Bullets also received rookie forward Don MacLean of UCLA in exchange for forward John Williams, who had missed all of last season with a weight problem.

The quick dismissal epitomized Bedford's six trouble-filled years in the NBA after he was the sixth player selected in the 1986 draft by the Phoenix Suns. He had a history of drug abuse and emotional problems and became known as a classic under-achiever. He spent the past five seasons with the Detroit Pistons as a lightly played back-up to Bill Laimbeer.


In June, the Pistons sent Bedford and the draft rights to MacLean to the Clippers for center Olden Polynice.

Bringing Bedford to camp was a no-risk proposition for the Bullets, who were not obligated to pay any of his $925,000 salary for the coming season. Half of that amount can be used in the Bullets' salary cap in an effort to sign MacLean, who is in camp watching the Bullets practice and working out with coaches.

Nash said a long-term agreement with MacLean was "99 percent" complete, but he was awaiting a medical clearance from the team doctors.

Nash tried to find even more room in the team salary cap earlier yesterday by requesting a league medical exemption for forward Bernard King, who is still incapable of running 13 months after knee surgery.

"We'd like to get a decision as soon as possible," said Nash, who

hopes to use half of King's salary ($1.25 million) to sign first-round draft choice Tom Gugliotta of North Carolina State.

Citing exemptions granted to Cleveland for Mark Price and to the Los Angeles Lakers for Magic Johnson, Nash was confident the NBA's medical advisers would act favorably.

"Common sense suggests that if Bernard's knee doesn't permit him to run today, there is nothing to cause us to believe he'll be playing next month or in six months," said Nash. "When he visited our doctors recently, Bernard didn't take a stress test because he couldn't run to activate the treadmill."


Regardless of the verdict, King, 35, who says he will return, is guaranteed his $2.5 million salary this season.

NOTES: A report from a Clippers source said Williams reported to camp weighing "well over 300 pounds." But unlike his situation in Washington, the 6-9 forward will be allowed to practice while trying to shed his excess weight. . . . Besides Bedford, coach Wes Unseld also released F Pat Cummings, who was attempting a comeback at 36. . . . The team practice Thursday night is open to the public at 6 p.m.