September 11, 1980
The Celtics' biggest problem is not the possible departure of top draft choice Kevin McHale to Italy. Their most important concern is signing the man who made their backcourt last year, Tiny Archibald.
"Right now, we are nowhere with Tiny," Red Auerbach admitted yesterday after returning from a disappointing negotiating session with Archibald's agent, Irwin Weiner.
"I can't really classify Tiny a holdout, because he's a free agent and free to go anywhere he wants," said Auerbach, adding that he doesn't expect Archibald to show up with the other Celtic veterans this week.
Asked if the no-show by Archibald would force the Celtics into a trade for a guard, Auerbach responded, "We'll just have to wait and see what happens. We're not going to panic about any of these things."
The Celtics signed Pete Maravich to a one-year contract yesterday, which reportedly is not guaranteed.
"It will be great to have Pete in here for a whole camp," said coach Bill Fitch, "but the guy I want to see in here is Tiny. Working together from the start develops chemistry on a team. That's how we got it last year with everyone working so hard in camp from day one."
McHale says he is going to take a look at Italy over the weekend "because I have to do what is best for Kevin McHale. The Celtics are offering me a contract that would make me the lowest-paid third-round pick in the last four drafts. This is my first experience at mixing basketball with business and it's leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I still want to play in Boston, but I'm not going to play for what I think is less than I deserve."
The Celtics' original offer to McHale was reportedly a $50,000 signing bonus and $175,000 a year for five years, which would average out to $185,000 per year including bonus. The third-round picks in the previous three drafts fared like this: 1979 - Bill Cartwright, New York Knicks, a contract average of $450,000 per year. 1978 - Rick Robey, then with Indiana, $220,000 per year. 1977 - Marques Johnson, Milwaukee, $200,000 per year.
The Celtics' position is that the money offered McHale is the second most (only to Larry Bird) that they have ever paid a draft choice, and they feel it is very generous.