Knicks Prepared to Make McHale Big Offer

June 1983
1983-84 Boston Celtics

The New York Knicks are prepared to sign Celtic free agent forward Kevin McHale to an "unmatchable" offer sheet tomorrow.

McHale's agent, John Sandquist, will meet with Knicks officials here tomorrow, and it's expected McHale will sign an offer sheet with New York before the end of the week.

Celtics owner Harry Mangurian, who signed three Knicks to offer sheets last week in an obvious attempt to block New York, has maintained that he will match any offer sheet McHale signs, but the Knicks think they have one that Mangurian will be unable to swallow.

According to sources in New York and Boston, McHale will be offered a four-year, $3.6-million pact calling for an immediate bonus of $3 million in cash, plus an annual salary of $150,000 for each of the next four years. In order to match the offer, Mangurian would have to give McHale $3 million in cash immediately. The Knicks don't think Mangurian has the money to match the offer, and it's obvious that it would be difficult to recover the cash if Mangurian tried to trade McHale after matching such an offer.

Alluding to the vast resources of Gulf & Western, the parent company of the Knicks, one New York team official said, "We have the cash, and that's a big advantage. Boston won't be able to match it, and, even if they could, McHale would be untradeable."

Mangurian, reached at his home in Florida, said, "They are predators that have an utter disregard for money. They are such a giant conglomerate, and everything they've done they've lost money on. They just do it to entertain guests from Gulf & Western. It's very discouraging."

Spread over four years, the Knicks would be paying McHale an average of $900,000 per season, which will keep them within the bounds of their $4.6- million salary cap for 1983-84.

However, New York's offer sheet may be in violation of the new collective- bargaining agreement. Asked about the legality of what New York will propose, Russ Granik, general counsel of the NBA, said, "If the bonus were so out of line with normal practices relating to bonuses, the league would take the position that it is an attempt to circumvent the salary cap . . . If it is so extreme, and a team is calling it a bonus rather than salary for the purpose of circumventing the cap, I think it would not be permitted."

McHale and Sandquist insist that the Knicks have yet to make an offer. But Sandquist, a Seattle native, is making his second coast-to-coast trip and it's unlikely he'll leave New York without an offer this time.

"The Knicks are the ones we've been talking to the most," Sandquist said yesterday. "This is going to be a working session, and I assume we'll be talking about numbers."

McHale will not be in New York. He's driving to Minnesota, where he plans to spend the rest of the summer. He admits that it's unlikely he'll return to Boston in the fall.

"I wanted to stay in Boston somehow, but now I'm not sure that's possible," McHale said. "It looks like I've got to go out and solicit an offer from someone else. By the end of the week, we'll really know how interested the Knicks are. The Knicks are the only team that has expressed interest in getting an offer signed. I think the other teams are a little wary of Harry and Red."

Meanwhile, the Knicks still have until June 30 to match Boston's three- year, $450,000-per-year offers to center Marvin Webster and forward Sly Williams. New York matched Boston's four-year, $2-million offer to guard Rory Sparrow last Friday.

Mangurian said, "I've said all along we're going to keep Kevin Mchale and I'll probably still try, but this is ridiculous. It (the $3-million bonus) is more than some teams take in in a year."

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