Before Saturday night's game against the New Jersey Nets at the Baltimore Arena, Washington Bullets assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik was watching reserve guard Brent Price, who repeatedly hit 20-foot jump shots in practice.
"Brent has a real opportunity now to get some playing time and prove he's capable of playing in this league," said Bzdelik. "He's kind of been buried on our bench, but now he has to seize the chance to impress people."
Price, a second-round draft pick from Oklahoma, played a season- high 24 minutes in the Bullets' 109-101 loss to the Nets in relief of starting point guard Michael Adams, who suffered through one of his least-productive nights of the season -- five points and three assists.
Going against vastly improved second-year guard Kenny Anderson and veteran Maurice Cheeks, Price managed to hold his own, contributing 10 points and three assists.
And Price was in during the fourth quarter, when Washington trimmed a 15-point deficit to four with 47 seconds left before the Nets sealed the win with six free throws.
"I've been waiting for this opportunity to come," said Price, who has played 211 minutes in his rookie season. "When I'm out there, I've got to do a better job of running the show and getting us good shots."
He was one of the bright spots in training camp before suffering a groin pull that kept him sidelined during the preseason and basically out of the rotation until recently.
Price's chance to prove his worth comes at the expense of Doug Overton, who will undergo surgery today or tomorrow to repair a fractured left thumb that is expected to sideline him for six weeks.
It was Overton, a free-agent rookie from La Salle, who became Adams' main understudy when Price was hurt in the preseason. Overton, who left his team in Sydney, Australia, for a chance to make the Bullets, impressed the coaches with his quickness and hustle and took center Greg Foster's roster spot.
When shooting guard Rex Chapman had back problems and also shot inconsistently, Overton joined Adams in the starting backcourt, and was averaging 9.2 points and 4.1 assists -- tops for rookies -- before Chapman won his job back.
And, now, it is again Price's time. To date, the younger brother of Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Mark Price has shown more ability as a shooter than playmaker. But coach Wes Unseld has been searching in vain for another point guard to end his team's long scoring droughts.
This was the Bullets' thinking in filling Overton's spot by signing free agent Chris Corchiani, who twice has been cut by the Orlando Magic and was playing for the Rapid City (S.D.) Thrillers of the CBA.
Corchiani is a pure point guard, and should get a legitimate shot in his 10-day trial that begins with practice today.
The Bullets could have activated Bernard King, but the forward will not come off the suspension list until today after last week's confrontation with Unseld, who said King needs more practice time after coming back from knee surgery.