IS DUEROD ANOTHER STEAL BY CANNY AUERBACH?
Is there no end to the generosity of those Detroit Pistons? They are still having a hard time recovering from the public relations disasters of the past. Bob McAdoo for M.L. Carr and a No. 1 draft choice that turned out to be Kevin McHale. Earl Tatum for Chris Ford. No wonder Red Auerbach has been barred from the state of Michigan.
Now it appears the latest contribution from the Motor City is one Terry (Do It) Duerod, who came to town from Detroit by way of Dallas and yesterday signed a second 10-day contract. Thus he still has a shot at the shooting-guard slot that will be up for grabs the moment Carr comes off the injured list.
"He's doing exactly the things we signed him for the first time, " said coach Bill Fitch, a hard man to please or pin down these days. "We needed a shooter and another player at practice. He's done both for us since he's been here. Somebody got banged up today in practice, and we still had enough bodies for a 5 on 5."
When the Celtics decided to sign the 6-foot-2 Duerod to the first 10-day contract on Dec. 5, all that was known was that they were getting a player who had NBA credentials. That was clear by the fact that Duerod averaged almost 20 minutes a game and 9.3 points in the 63 contests he played for the Pistons last season, and which made him a prime choice for the expansion Mavericks in last summer's draft.
What most people know now is what has been generally known around the NBA since former Piston coach Dick Vitale pulled Duerod from his hip pocket at the University of Detroit and brought him into the league last season. He is a young man who knows how to put the ball into the hole.
"I've been a shooter all my career," says Duerod. "Right now, I'm just working hard and hoping for a chance to show people what I play. I have to improve on defense because they stress that with this team. But I'm very happy to be here."
That Duerod is in Boston at all is the result of those quirks that make NBA players and coaches prematurely gray. The Mavericks thought enough of Duerod this year to start him in five of the 18 games he played for them. Even though he languished in obscurity last year at Detroit, the worst team in the NBA, few could forget his college credentials which earned him a shot. Duerod was the third-ranking scorer in Detroit history behind Dave DeBusschere and John Long with his 23.3 average, and shot .512 as a collegian.
As a rookie pro, Duerod was often explosive, getting 28 against Houston last year. This year, he averaged 18.7 minutes and 9.3 points for Dallas, and just last Friday he put on a classic display of GTAIB (Garbage Time At Its Best) with 12 points in six minutes against the New Jersey Nets in his first extended look for the Celtics.
But Dallas found that his lack of experience as a defensive player and inability as a ball handler were liabilities they could ill afford. The Mavericks, one source said, wanted a ball-handling guard and a better defensive player to work opposite former Knick Geoff Houston. So former Providence star Joey Hassett was dropped in favor of Oliver Mack for defense, and Duerod was cut in favor of Brad Davis, an experienced ball handler.
"Duerod was a luxury that a club like ours couldn't afford," said a Dallas spokesman. "But we had a hunch that some good club would pick him up because of his shooting ability."
The good club turned out to be Boston, which had Carr on the injured list, and a rookie shooting- guard (Wayne Kreklow) who is struggling. Duerod got into only two games during his first 10-day contract, but obviously has won some fans. Fitch might have a very difficult decision the day that Carr is ready to return.
"All I can say right now," says Duerod, "is that I enjoy being here. It's so different from when I was with Detroit or Dallas. You go out expecting you're going to win. If this team goes on a five-game trip, it's nothing to expect it to go 5-0 or 4-1. With Detroit, although you didn't go out there looking to lose, it would always be 1-4 or 0-5. That's just the way it is.
"I like the style of play here, especially the running. At Dallas, we walked the ball up the floor. But what I really like about this club is the attitude. Everybody seems to be happy and enjoying working with each other. I really like that. I just hope I can continue to be a part of it."