9.19.2008

The Not So Green Mile: Walton Puts on a Uniform

Bill Walton's Final Months as a Boston Celtic
March 1, 1987

Item: Bill Walton is back in uniform.

This particular story is just beginning, not ending. "The next phase," says Celtics general manager Jan Volk, "is to get where we're not talking about Bill, but talking about the team. We're taking it slow."

Assuming that Walton does make it all the way back, Volk will be even further relieved that he chose not to bite the bullet and make a deal for one of the mediocre big men who were available in February. After all, nothing ever was certain with Walton -- it still isn't -- and there were opportunities to secure some people with experience.

"I don't want to be sitting here at this point in time saying I knew Bill was going to be back," said Volk. "But what was available either did not suit our needs or was not worth the cost."

Perhaps the most tantalizing item on the big-man menu was Kurt Nimphius, an athletic, 29-year-old frontcourt swingman who was being marketed by the Clippers. Detroit gave up a first- and second-round pick for him, and now he is the 11th man on the squad, right next to Chuck Nevitt. Detroit coach Chuck Daly is saying that perhaps Nimphius is really a 3 (i.e. a small forward) rather than a 4 (big forward) or a 5 (center). Volk feels a lot better, Walton or no Walton, about his decision to pass up Nimphius.

Just remember, we're talking about Bill Walton, a peculiar physical being. "We've never been to the point where we were relying on Bill coming back," Volk admits. "And we will view the balance of the season with a certain amount of trepidation."

As will, you can be sure, the opponents, especially one in the 213 area code.

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