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Bullets' point guard role on shaky footing Prognosis uncertain for Price's sore heel


BOWIE -- While his Washington Bullets teammates were walking through an offensive play during practice Saturday, Mark Price stood on the sideline with his hands tucked into his jeans pockets. His job these days is not to play, but to observe -- something he'll be doing a lot in the next two weeks.

"It's going to be hard to learn as you play," Price said. "It sets me back and possibly the team back as far as cohesiveness, because I haven't played with these guys at all."

The team is attempting to put a positive spin on Price's sore left heel, hopeful that rest and treatment will have him ready for the Nov. 3 opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. But different players have reacted to a plantar fascia injury in different ways -- leaving a touch of doubt about when Price will return and how effective he will be after three weeks of rest.

"I want to be ready for the first game," Price said. "The injury affects each individual differently. What keeps one guy out a whole season probably kept another guy out a week or two. It's hard to say."

Though his prognosis isn't clear, what's certain is that the Bullets' point guard situation will be in shambles if Price is unavailable for the majority of the season. Washington's offense was ineffective in Thursday's loss to the New York Knicks in the preseason opener, and could remain a problem. The Bullets will play the rest of the preseason without the four-time All-Star running the show.

"The execution wasn't good," said Bullets coach Jim Lynam, who put the blame upon himself. "We spent a lot of time in practice on our half-court defense, and our lack of offense maybe was a result of that."

Seeing the team struggle bothers Price.

"It's frustrating, because I think I can provide some leadership," Price said. "There are so many young players, and there's really nobody that they can look to right now where they can say, 'Here's somebody who's been there before. What can we do here?'

"Hopefully, that's what I can do during a game: get in a situation where I can help and put them in a position to win games. I'm confident I can get the job done if my body cooperates."

In the meantime, younger brother Brent Price and Doug Overton split time at the point in a battle for the backup job. Overton missed all five of his shots while starting against the Knicks on Thursday. Brent Price is trying to come back after missing all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.


"I think I bring a little bit different game than Mark and Brent. I'm bigger, and I think I'm a better defender," Overton said. "When everything's said and done, I just hope I'm the one who's out there playing. They won't play three point guards, just with Mark and whoever wins the backup role."

NOTES: Reserve center Jim McIlvaine will have his physical today and is expected to practice then. On Friday, the Bullets matched the Minnesota Timberwolves' $525,000 contract offer to McIlvaine. . . . Mitchell Butler, Calbert Cheaney and Chris Webber will be attending the Million Man March on the Mall in Washington before today's 11 a.m. practice. They plan to get to the march as early as 5 a.m.

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