Fox May Take Less to Stay in the Green

May 21, 1997

Celtics free agent Rick Fox intimated he may well settle for less than his market value to be a part of the Rick Pitino regime.

Fox, who opted out of his contract after this past season, is mindful that he fits well into Pitino's favored style.

All along, he has stated a desire to enjoy the comeback after living through the Celtic slide.

And though Pitino has expressed his affection for Fox as well, the new coach and president is looking to loosen the pay structure that has put the club in bad position vis-a-vis the salary cap. So there may be a tough decision to make on Fox if he pushes for top dollar.

But the Celtics captain may make it easier.

"Put it this way," Fox said. "There is more involved here than just getting a pay raise and getting my open marketplace value.

"What I'm interested in is winning and the opportunity to build a championship team. That's what I'm looking at even more than the fact that I like this city. I want to win basketball games."

While Fox was awaiting an initial meeting with Pitino to get further acquainted (the two worked as player and coach on one of the teams in the movie "Blue Chips"), he feels there is no doubt he can provide what the coach is looking for.

"He'll be the judge, but I think I fit his style," Fox said. "I like to think that. I can play defense and put on pressure in the open court. I can shoot the outside shot, and I love working hard. I've been around a few years now, and I think it's easy to see why Chicago, New York and Miami do so well. They work hard. They're not afraid of hard work, and that shows in the way they play and the way they carry themselves. I know that's the way coach Pitino goes about things.

"I'd love to play for Rick Pitino. To me, he's a winner."

The fact Fox opted out of his contract should not be construed as an indication he'd like to leave.

"This was a planned thing when we signed the contract," said Fox, who made $ 1.75 million last season.

"But I've said all along that my first choice would be to stay here and be one of the people who helps us turn the team back to being a contender.

"It's really not up to me to say I'm definitely going to be back here. That has to be coach Pitino's decision. But from what I know and what I can see, I think this would be a very good situation.

"I just have to find out whether I fit into their plans. I know coach said some good things about me and Dave (Wesley) in the paper, and that felt good."

Shortly after taking the Celtics job, Pitino lauded Fox and Wesley, though the latter, also a free agent, may be out of the club's price range because of the existing backcourt contracts.

"Those are two guys with wonderful, wonderful attitudes," Pitino said two days after being announced as the Boston chief.

"Both have everything you want in a Celtic. But some of this is out of our control. I do think both guys will want to see what's out there (for offers). There are just a lot of things we have to look at right now."

In Fox, Pitino will see a player with strong leadership qualities who has played in both the frontcourt and backcourt and has shown he can work well as either a starter or sixth man. It will also interest Pitino to know that Fox was truly bothered by each of the 67 losses this past season.

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