Pack offers speedy remedy Price's replacement may open Bullets' offense


BOWIE -- It's the speed that first catches your attention when watching Robert Pack. Pushing the ball up the court from one end of the floor to the other he's a blur, which kind of creates a domino effect with his teammates.

"When you have a guard that can push the ball down the throat of a defense, instead of me getting hoarse yelling 'run your lane, run your lane' -- the guys [now] don't need that," said Bullets coach Jim Lynam. "The open floor situation is a dimension that we have not had."

With the possibility that Mark Price could face surgery on his left heel (he might make a decision by late next week), the Bullets traded Don MacLean and Doug Overton for Pack on Monday. Pack was expected to be the fourth guard in a three-guard rotation for the Denver Nuggets this season. Instead, his career has been revived, with the possibility of starting tomorrow night's season opener in Philadelphia.

"I was real happy about the trade," Pack, 25, said yesterday after his first practice with the Bullets. "I'm coming in here thinking it's an opportunity to play a lot of minutes early and establish myself."

Listed at 6 feet 2 (he is more like 5-11), Pack entered the league as a free agent and is in his fifth season. Last year Pack beat out point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf as the starting point guard, and was among the leading guards in points and assists in the opening month. However, he eventually lost his starting job, and wound up playing in just 42 games. By season's end, it was just a matter of when he would be traded.

"I heard my name mentioned in trades, and I really started to prepare myself," Pack said. "I tried to take advantage [of minutes during preseason where he scored over 18 points a game] and tried not to dwell on what was going on with the trade rumors."

Not only is Pack fast, he is a powerful leaper with a knack for finishing drives down the lane with powerful dunks.

"When the opportunity presents itself, I try to penetrate, and if a guy doesn't pick me up I'll finish," Pack said. "If he does, I'm capable of dishing off. I think, with the guys on the front line here, I don't have to finish as much."

NOTES: Derek Smith, activated by the Bullets on Monday, wore Don MacLean's old No. 34 during practice. . . . Calbert Cheaney did not practice because of his sore hamstring but took part in shooting drills.

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