The chances are good that a free agent will win a spot on an NBA roster, but history gives the 10 contenders competing at the Washington Bullets' minicamp starting Wednesday at Bowie State more hope than usual.
The past three years, four free agents -- guards Larry Robinson, Haywoode Workman and Doug Overton and forward Larry Stewart -- impressed coach Wes Unseld enough in training camp to open the regular season with the Bullets.
Stewart, Overton and two other veterans who were drafted last season -- forward Don MacLean and guard Brent Price -- will participate in the four-day camp, leading to a round-robin exhibition series against five Eastern Conference rivals at the New York Knicks' training complex in Purchase, N.Y., July 16-25.
"We were trying to attract some of the top Continental Basketball Association players," Bullets assistant general manager Chuck Douglas said. "In Matt Fish and Darren Morningstar, we think we got the CBA's top two big men from last year, and [guard] Jo Jo English averaged over 30 points in the playoffs for Tri-Cities."
Morningstar, 6 feet 10, 235 pounds, began his college career at the Naval Academy, then transferred to Pitt, where he averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds as a senior. He was a second-round (47th) draft pick of the Boston Celtics in last year's NBA draft. Fish, a 6-11 center at UNC-Wilmington, was drafted 50th by Golden State last year, but, like Morningstar, did not survive training camp.
Most of the attention in minicamp will focus on the Bullets' 1993 draft choices -- small forward Calbert Cheaney (sixth) of Indiana and power forward Conrad McRae (38th) of Syracuse. McRae's appearance is guaranteed, but Cheaney's depends on a quick contract agreement. Second-round pick Gheorghe Muresan (30th), a 7-7, 315-pound center from Romania, will not attend.
Six collegians who were not chosen in the draft also will attend. The most intriguing are guards Mitchell Butler of UCLA and Orlando Stewart of Central (Ohio) State. Stewart was the second-leading scorer in the NAIA, averaging 27.5 points.