Celtics Forced to Release Paxson

1990-91 Boston Celtics
Remembering the 29-5 Start

The NBA gave the Celtics a little nudge yesterday and, just like that, Boston's roster decreased by two. Gone were Jim Paxson and Charles Smith. Both were waived, leaving the Celtics with 13 players on the roster, including John Bagley, who is on the injured list.

The moves came at the "suggestion" of the NBA, club officials said. Celtics CEO Dave Gavitt said he thought the league's intervention was prompted by complaints from other teams that Boston was hiding players. Asked to explain the Paxson move, Gavitt said, "The league made us do it. They said if he was still going to be on the suspended list and still being paid, then he ought to be waived."

And Smith, who had been on the injured list with a shoulder injury? "We wanted to protect his rights until he got healthy," he said. Gavitt said the recent decision by the NBA to grant a full roster exception created by Dennis Johnson's departure may have stirred some jealousy around the league. The NBA determined that the Celtics have DJ's full salary ($1.15 million) available should they need it. They would have gotten only 50 percent had DJ retired. And even if Johnson retired today, Boston would still get the full value of the contract. "If you ask me, both moves were triggered by the DJ decision," Gavitt said. "Once that happened, I think some of the other teams reacted. That's just my feeling."

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