Free Agency Begins as Todd Day Bids Farewell

July 1, 1997

The Rick Pitino Reign officially begins today. This is the first day the NBA allows teams to sign free agents and renounce players. And when it comes to free agents, the Celtics (10 free agents) have plenty of decisions to make.

Pitino, the team's president and coach, already has said he will say goodbye to shooting guard Todd Day. That didn't exactly come as a surprise to Day's agent, Jerome Stanley. "We haven't talked to Rick," he said yesterday. Asked if any teams have expressed behind-the-scenes interest in Day, Stanley replied, "No. Not at all."

Free agent point guard David Wesley has elicited the opposite response. Wesley, who averaged 16 points and 7.5 assists last season, is supposedly coveted by the Hornets. The team recently asked Muggsy Bogues to retire, a request the 5-foot-3-inch guard didn't appreciate. But Charlotte's guard pursuit reportedly is a two-man race between Wesley and Sam Cassell, although Cassell is expected to sign with Orlando.

As for the rest of the Celtics? Steve Hamer, Michael Hawkins, Nate Driggers, Brett Szabo, Alton Lister, and Frank Brickowski probably will be elsewhere. Pitino said he would like Rick Fox to return, but the only possible hitch is length of contract. That leaves one free agent with the best chance of coming back. He has a quirky shot that Pitino told him to keep while he was at Providence College in 1987. He was a fan favorite last year at the FleetCenter. "Probably because fans love how hard he works," his agent, Keith Glass, said.

The player: Marty Conlon.

"He knows Pitino; Pitino knows him. They feel real comfortable with each other," Glass said.

If the 6-foot-10-inch Conlon were to return, it probably would be with a one-year contract. Between Phoenix and Boston last season, Conlon made nearly $ 1.5 million, and Glass doesn't want that number to drop. With the Celtics alone, Conlon made $ 247,500.

Teams don't have to renounce players until they are ready to sign someone else. The Celtics may not do that today; teams like the Hornets and Magic just might.

Camp Pitino has home

The Celtics announced yesterday that their training camp will be held in Newport, R.I. The camp will begin Oct. 3 and conclude Oct. 9. Pitino had said he wanted to have a camp closer to New England (last year the team trained in Greensboro, N.C.) so the Celtics would be more accessible to their fans. The weeklong camp will be held at the Naval Education and Training Center . . . There was some good news for Dino Radja last Friday. He and his wife, Zeljana, became parents of their first child, a boy named Duje . . . One year ago, who would have thought that Paul Grant would be drafted and not Danya Abrams? In 88 games at Boston College, the 7-foot Grant averaged 4.3 points and 2.8 rebounds. But he transferred to Wisconsin and developed into a first-round pick (20th by the Timberwolves). The disclaimer, of course, is that he has at least six inches on former teammate Abrams. Big men with a semblance of coordination are rare in the NBA. Grant actually may have a chance to contribute with the Wolves. Stojko Vrankovic was traded to the Clippers for Stanley Roberts, who is hurt. And Dean Garrett is a free agent. So Grant could play.

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