This may not exactly come as a major revelation, but the Dallas Mavericks are not interested in becoming involved in a major bidding war with the Utah Jazz for Jeff Judkins. Maverick general manager Norm Sonju has an interest in Judkins, but there is a definite limit to that interest. Sonju chose Judkins from the Celtics over Pete Maravich or Tiny Archibald. The Jazz have made Judkins an offer, and if he had accepted it the Celtics would have protected him.
Meanwhile, Red Auerbach is gearing up for a tough contract negotiation with Ron Grinker, who represents Cedric Maxwell (and also Judkins). Maxwell and Grinker are looking for big bucks, and three times what Maxwell is now making apparently isn't big enough. "There comes a time when you've got to draw the line," Auerbach says. "You can't get in a situation where anyone is completely indispensible. Bird is close to that. Cowens used to be. But Maxwell isn't.
We've made him a very good offer, and that's all we can do." The game of musical chairs among NBA coaches may leave Dick Motta without a job, and Bullet general manager Bob Ferry feels that is ridiculous. "Motta is one of the five top coaches of all-time," Ferry contends. "That business about him not working hard this year just isn't true. He worked his butt off, but it was a hard year for us with so many injuries. We started the season with Mitch Kupchak, Bob Dandridge and Kevin Grevey all out with injuries. Dandridge never could practice much all year. You can't do much with eight or nine men in practice, and that's all we ever seemed to have." . . . The Mavericks are still interested in signing former UCLA center Ralph Drollinger as a backup. Drollinger has spent the last few seasons playing for the Athletes in Action team. "He'd be better off with us than anyone else," says general manager Sonju of the deeply religious 7-foot-2 pivotman. Sonju even went to the extent of bringing him in for an interview at the non-denominational Dallas Theological Seminary, but Thus far, however, Drollinger remains uncommitted.
. . . The Mavericks could have put a fascinating team on the floor had they gone after some of the big names offered them. Try this potential nucleus: G-John Williamson, Charlie Scott and Jo Jo White. C-Spencer Haywood. F-Bernard King, Marvin Barnes and Joe Bryant. Atlanta is one of the teams interested in improving its draft position. The Hawks, who have the 18th and 28th picks in the June 10 draft, are forever on the lookout for a forward to render John Drew obsolete. They also need guard help since Hubie Brown has soured on Armond Hill, who was signed to a new long-term contract only last year. Incidentally, Tree Rollins underwent knee surgery recently . . . Many people were surprised when Kansas City made guard Billy McKinney available to the Mavericks, and coach Cotton Fitzsimmons explains it this way: "We've spent a lot of time and money attempting to rehabilitate Tommy Burleson (knee surgery), and we weren't simply going to hand him away. I really like Ernie Grunfeld. McKinney was a less hungry ballplayer this year. He got a better contract, and immediately he stopped being the first one at practice and the last to leave. I wasn't looking to move him, but you've got to make a decision and we decided to expose him." . . . The Mavericks chose four free agents among their 22 players, and one of them has a right of first refusal clause in his contract should he decide to sign with someone else. That someone is veteran guard Jim Cleamons. The "For Sale" sign has been hung on both Rudy Tomjanovich and Calvin Murphy by the Houston Rockets. Despite the fact that he was a huge disappointment, Tom Henderson wound up being protected by the Rockets in the expansion draft . . . CBS hosted a reception for the NBA folk at the Grayhall Mansion, which happened to be the new name of "Pickfair," the celebrated mansion built by Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Apprised that the abode was for sale with a $10 million price tag, someone suggested that in that case the most logical prospective buyers would have been found among the players . . . From Don Nelson, full beard and all:"This is the first time in NBA history that a 100 percent zone won the championship. Others have won it by playing some zone, but the Lakers just go straight 2-3. And you know what will happen now. You'll see everybody doing it." There was a predictable local outcry over the Rookie of the Year balloting, which saw Larry Bird beat Magic Johnson by a 63-3 margin. The LA press people now want the voting done after the playoffs. I wonder if they would have been so interested if Magic played for Milwaukee or Denver. And as for the 63-3 margin, so what? You can't weight a vote, as in boxing where a guy wins a round and gets 10 points to the other guy's one, or none, or whatever. You make one choice, and in this case it was between two exceptional rookies.