Red Fumes as McHale Prepares to Sign Knicks' Offer Sheet

June 1983
1983-84 Boston Celtics

The Celtics and Kevin McHale's agent, John Sandquist, are through negotiating, and McHale is expected to sign a five-year, $6.25 million offer sheet with the New York Knicks before the end of the week.

McHale was in Minnesota yesterday and Sandquist was in Seattle, waiting to hear from the Knicks. Sandquist intends to fly to New York in a few days.

Meanwhile, Celtic owner Harry Mangurian and general manager Red Auerbach are through talking to Sandquist and expressed bitterness about the way the negotiations deteriorated.

"It's about time we stood up and told you what's going on," said Auerbach. "He has led us on. He's indicated that if we'd do a certain thing, they'd accept our offer. When we do those things, he says he'll discuss it with Kevin, then he calls back and says no. (Sunday) night we extended the term of the contract and I was optimistic, but he said he'd talk to Kevin, then he called back and said no.

"What happens is you get an agent who wants to get his name in the papers to enhance his position to get college players. If we had given Kevin a superhuman effort on our part, it never would have been accepted because (Sandquist) wouldn't have gotten the publicity.

"He's milked it, even though, in actuality, he's not interested. We feel he's used the newspapers to get us to increase the amounts and terms . . . and this stuff about getting back to us before they sign anything is bull."

Sandquist said, "That sounds like sour grapes to me. I don't see it that way at all. I've simply followed up as I said I would. Kevin's main concern is the potential of getting traded from there and we're not satisfied with their commitment on that."

Auerbach admitted that the Celtics have thus far refused to offer McHale a no-trade contract.

New York's offer sheet reportedly calls for McHale to receive an annual salary of $1,250,000 plus a $3 million, interest-free loan, plus a trade penalty clause which stipulates that McHale will get an additional $650,000 if he is traded.

Both Auerbach and Mangurian think such an offer sheet will be ruled illegal by the NBA. They believe that the interest McHale earns from the loan would have to be counted towards New York's $4.6 million salary cap. Assistant general manager Jan Volk predicted that the Celtics would seek an arbitration ruling if the league fails to rule such an offer illegal.

Offer-sheet trade clauses have already been upheld by an arbitrator. Last year, the Knicks signed Golden State's Bernard King to an offer sheet and included a provision which stipulated that King would receive an additional $90,000 for each year of the contract if he were traded anywhere other than New York or Golden State. The clause was ruled legal.

Sandquist said, "We're going to be as careful as we can. If we need to go to arbitration, we will go to arbitration, but if there is an offer sheet, we're going to make it as clean as we can."

Mangurian said, "As far as a New York offer is concerned, when and if it comes, unless there is something completely out of line with what we voted on (the new basic agreement), I plan to match it."

Mangurian also fired a couple of salvos. "The Knicks had as much to do with what emerged (in the form of the basic agreement) as any team in the NBA and now we have a situation where they'll do anything to circumvent it . . . They're going to flex their muscles. I'm just thankful we've got a cap, because if they want to spend their millions there isn't any team that could compete . . . They think they're going to get him, but I can tell you they're not going to get him."

McHale has repeatedly stated that he would accept less money to stay in Boston. When Auerbach was asked if he still believed the statement, he replied, "No, I don't anymore."

He continued, "It comes to a point where you're being used. We've been around too long to have any agent use us the way this guy has used us. Last night I gave him what I thought he wanted and I was kind of surprised when he turned it down."

Mangurian added, "I think we met what they asked for a couple of weeks ago."

In a related matter, the Knicks are still trying to move backup center Marvin Webster and forward Sly Williams. The Celtics signed both to three- year, $450,000-per-year contracts two weeks ago and New York has until Thursday to either match the offers or let those players become property of the Celtics. The Knicks would like to trade Webster to Dallas in exchange for a draft pick and hope to do that before today's draft.

With Rick Robey traded to Phoenix, the Celtics might have room for Webster. Due to their $4.6 million salary cap, the Knicks can't keep Webster and Williams (at $900,000 per year) if they hope to pay McHale more than $1 million per year.

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