June 10, 1980
So far, it looks like a good deal.
Let's see now, where did I put that confounded Seal of Approval? I recall using it to OK the deal for Larry Bird, and again when the Celtics dumped Bob McAdoo and wound up with M.L. Carr and the Pistons' two No. 1 draft choices.
Can't remember using it since, certainly not when the Patriots shipped Leon Gray to the Houston Oilers for a ham sandwich, or when the Red Sox signed Skip Lockwood for money enough to buy Costa Rica. Ah, here's the official seal, tucked away in the second drawer of the desk, underneath the 8-by-10 autographed glossy photo of Rex Morgan. It seems dusty, but serviceable enough.
The Seal of Approval doesn't get much action around here. For every positive deal, there are five bummers of the Lee-for-Papi or Nick Buoniconti- for -Kim Hammond variety. There are too many farewells to the likes of El Tiante and not enough hellos to the likes of Jean Ratelle. More athletes who produce in the clutch seem to leave than arrive, if you get my drift.
But the Celtics' move of yesterday appears worthy of a large, healthy, both-feet-off-the-ground stamp of approval. It was a coup of the first order, and everyone knows that's the best kind. The deal gives the Golden State Warriors the NBA's No. 1 and No. 13 draft choices today. In return, the Celtics receive 7-foot center Robert Parish, plus the No. 3 pick in the draft.
It means, from a Celtics' point of view, giving up Purdue center Joe Barry Carroll and receiving Parish and either Darrell Griffith or 6-11 forward- center Kevin McHale of Minnesota, probably the latter. One hates to hum the company line, but it is difficult, from my vantage point behind a thick NBA guide, to see how the Celtics can come off second best in this shuffling of papers and oversized bodies.
They were looking for a center to supplement, and perhaps eventually replace, David Cowens. Because of this, they were almost forced to draft Carroll, a 7-footer with considerable offensive potential but who, from my small glimpses of him as a collegian, lacked certain items, such as motivation and defensive ability.
The Celtics, because of this overwhelming - at least in their mind - need for muscle to back up Cowens, would have been forced to pass up Griffith, the NCAA player of the year, and McHale, who some think is the best player in this year's draft. Now they have the height in Parish, who will be one of the tallest ever to wear a Celtics' uniform, and also have a certainty of obtaining either Griffith or McHale in today's draft.
It is the equivalent of getting either of those players as a 13th draft pick, which would have been out of the question before the deal with Golden State.
The Celtics expect Utah to take the more publicized and flashy Griffith, to sell some seats in the Salt Palace. That would leave them with McHale, which would not make Bill Fitch unhappy. "The worst that can happen with that third pick," said the Celtics' coach yesterday, "is that we'll be forced to settle for Griffith."
He didn't mind the sound of that either. No trade, of course, comes with five-year warranties or your money back. The last time I saw Parish - wait a minute and I'll hum a few bars - he did not remind me of Kareem or Artis Gilmore or even Rick Robey. He lah-de-dahed through a televised game from the Coast, a 7-foot invisible man. Phlegmatic is a good word, and also disinterested, and lethargic makes three. A change of scenery and a chance to play for a contender and the opportunity to join the Celtics' "family" will change all that. Sure it will.
Still, as Fitch pointed out, if the 26-year-old Parish and the 22-year-old Carroll were both available in the college draft today, Parish would likely be picked first. His potential has always been defined as defensive. His five-year blocked- shot average is 109 a season, and his rebounds a shade under 10 a game.
The trade also leaves the Celtics' guard situation at ground zero. Quickness is in short supply, not to mention the deadeye outside shot. If the Celtics get McHale to go with Parish, they will have a Chicago stockyards front line, but the team will need a bus to get from one end of the court to the other. Fitch said he could live with all that height, but chances are the Celtics couldn't. If McHale and Parish join Robey and Cowens and Cedric Maxwell and Bird, Carr would join Gerald Henderson, Nate Archibald, Chris Ford and perhaps Pete Maravich at guard.
That is not a backcourt to make the Celtic zealot dream sweet dreams of championships.
The deal yesterday is not likely to be the last the Celtics make before training camp.