For Nine years Pacers center Rik Smits has battled inflamed nerves on the bottoms of both feet. Smits says that the scar tissue from two operations compounds the pain and that he has considered retirement. But don't scratch him from the lineup anytime soon. The 31-year-old Smits, who'll be a free agent next summer, told team president Donnie Walsh in the fall that he wants to re-up for at least two more seasons.
Wizards owner Abe Pollin is furious that his team's image was further tarnished by Chris Webber's arrest in Washington last week on a battery of charges including marijuana possession and misdemeanor assault. (A hearing is scheduled for April 2.) In the past 14 months the Wizards' top three players have been arrested in D.C. In November 1996, Juwan Howard was charged with driving while intoxicated and was ordered to undergo alcohol rehab, and Rod Strickland was cited for DWI and disorderly conduct in September.
As an assistant with the Nuggets this season and the Grizzlies' head coach the last two years, Brian Winters was 26-140 at week's end. Although Denver did stop its record-tying 24-game skid with a 99-81 victory over the Clippers last Saturday, the Warriors, who at week's end had dropped 14 straight, were next in line to challenge that mark.
Point guard Robert Pack was acquired in February '97 to orchestrate the Mavericks' new up-tempo attack. But after breaking a finger on his left hand in the preseason, Pack averaged just 7.8 points and 3.5 assists through Sunday. He was a DNP-CD five times, and team sources say coach Don Nelson has soured on him. It's a moot point for the moment: Pack tore a ligament in his right thumb last week and will be out until April.
With Glenn Robinson having a career year, Tyrone Hill providing tough rebounding and D up front, and Terrell Brandon dazzling at the point, the question persists: Why aren't the Bucks better? The answer may be center Ervin Johnson, who was averaging 7.6 points at week's end and hasn't been able to make short jumpers when Brandon and Robinson get doubled.