Faced with the possibility that Mark Price's foot injury is more serious than initially thought, the Washington Bullets again went shopping for a point guard and acquired Robert Pack from the Denver Nuggets yesterday.
The deal did not come without a price, as Washington gave up forward Don MacLean and backup point guard Doug Overton for Pack and future considerations.
"I think that given Pack was available, and because of our situation, you had to do it," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said of the trade. "The fact is, given where we are with Mark, we needed some insurance."
The Bullets obtained Price from the Cleveland Cavaliers last month in what team officials thought was the final piece in building a winning team. But Price suffered from a sore left heel and practiced just once during training camp. He was told to rest his foot for three weeks, which would have had him ready for Friday's season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.
But last week, Price again complained of soreness and left the team during its six-game preseason trip. On Friday, he received a cortisone injection in his foot and should know next week when he can play again. There's a possiblity he may need surgery.
In Pack, the Bullets get an explosive point guard who began last season as a starter and for the first six weeks posted numbers worthy of All-Star consideration.
During one stretch, the 6-foot-2 Pack averaged 15.6 points and ranked third in the league with 9.7 assists. He also ranked among the leading three-point shooters at 48.2 percent. But Pack later lost his job to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. He wound up averaging 12.1 points and 6.9 assists in 42 games.
"When he's gotten playing time, he has played well," said Lynam. "Pack has shown that when he's had the opportunity, he's able to perform at a high level. He's got explosiveness that will help out our big guys, and he has the potential to be a standout point guard."
The Bullets made the deal because they were leery of starting the season with Overton or Brent Price, Mark's younger brother, as starting point guard. Overton started the final 20 games last season, but is perhaps best suited to being a backup. Brent Price suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in July 1994, which caused him to miss all of last season.
Pack averaged a team-high 18.0 points and 5.4 assists in eight preseason games with the Nuggets this season, and is averaging 8.9 points and 4.4 assists over a four-year NBA career. He was signed as an undrafted rookie by the Portland Trail Blazers before the 1991-92 season.
"The addition of Robert Pack gives us a top-quality point guard," said Bullets general manager John Nash. "Pack is an explosive point guard who flourishes in an up-tempo game. He is also considered a top defensive player at his position."
MacLean was a restricted free agent who signed a one-year deal worth $925,000 earlier this month. Two years ago, MacLean led the team in scoring with 18.1 points and was named the league's Most Improved Player. But last season, injuries to his knees (tendinitis) and a broken right thumb limited him to 39 games. He was expected to fill a reserve role this season.
"We'll certainly miss MacLean's scoring off the bench," Lynam said. "But when you look at the position where we have a lot of depth, it's all in the front court."
MacLean, 6-10, 235 pounds, who averaged 12.5 points and shot 41 percent from the field in three seasons with the Bullets, could not be reached for comment last night.
Overton (6-3, 190) averaged 6.2 points and 2.6 assists in his three seasons with Washington.
"The Nuggets are an established playoff contender, and I feel like I'm going into a good situation," Overton said. "If it works out well, I'll do fine."
Year, Team ... ... G ... ... Reb ... ... Ast ... ... Pts
'91-92 Por. .. ... 72 .. ... 97 .. .. .. 140 ... ... 4.6
'92-93 Den. .. ... 77 .. ... 160 ... ... 335 ... ... 10.5
'93-94 Den. .. ... 66 .. ... 123 ... ... 356 ... ... 9.6
'94-95 Den. .. ... 42 .. ... 113 ... ... 290 ... ... 12.1
Tot. ... ... .. .. 257 .. .. 493 ... ... 1121 .. ... 8.9