BOWIE -- Maybe the expectations were too high. When the Washington Bullets acquired Kevin Duckworth, they wanted the former two-time all-star to provide a presence in the middle that hadn't been felt since Moses Malone was with the team.
Duckworth fell well short of those expectations. And the Bullets, who have been trying to deal him for some time, finally were able to trade the 7-foot center to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
"I'm happy it worked out for Kevin and us," Bullets general manager John Nash said last night.
The only way the Bullets were able to trade Duckworth was to pay more than $1 million of his $2.8 million contract. He was in the last year of his Bullets deal, and the club's unhappiness with his play was a reason it matched the $525,000 contract that the Minnesota Timberwolves offered to backup center Jim McIlvaine.
Duckworth, 31, averaged 6.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in his first season with the Bullets, falling quickly into former coach Wes Unseld's doghouse. Listed at 285 pounds, Duckworth weighed in at well over 300, and the extra weight affected his play.
In coach Jim Lynam's first season last year, Duckworth was impressive at the start, averaging 11.4 points in 11 games in November. But weight again became an issue, and he was suspended eight games for being out of shape. He played 40 games, the fewest in his nine-year career, and lost his starting job to Gheorghe Muresan.
"I just don't know what happened with him here," said Bullets guard Doug Overton. "I would have liked to have seen him play the way he did with Portland, but he just never really got comfortable."
On the third day of training camp this year, Duckworth had "his best practice since I've been here," Lynam said. But Duckworth had bronchitis and a sore ankle throughout camp, limiting his participation.
In Milwaukee, coach Mike Dunleavy expects Duckworth to come off the bench initially.
"We need to find some adequate play in the low-post position," Dunleavy said. "Last year we had to play [forward] Vin Baker a lot at center . . . he was an undersized center, and that was no help to us."
Bob McCann, the 6-7 forward acquired from Milwaukee, was at practice yesterday but unable to participate because Duckworth had yet to join the Bucks.
McCann, 31, averaged 15.5 points and 9.6 rebounds last season with Rapid City of the Continental Basketball Association, but he is unlikely to make a Bullets roster that is loaded at forward.