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Celtics Contemplate Repeat in 1985
Who will the 12 Celtics be next year? Start with Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale and DJ. All are under contract and should be considered untouchable, unless Auerbach can get a Patrick Ewing or Ralph Sampson for the aging and increasingly moody Parish.
Cedric Maxwell and Gerald Henderson are free agents. "They are the next order of business," says Volk.
Maxwell does a lot of kidding about not being in Boston next year. He has always expressed interest in playing in Atlanta, but his agent, Ron Grinker, is very tight with Auerbach. Both Grinker and Auerbach maintained that they would "get it done" at the end of the season. Maxwell earned $400,00 least year and is reportedly seeking something in the $700,000 range.
Henderson is represented by Boston agent Scott Lang. The Celtics have talked with neither Grinker nor Lang in the last month, but Auerbach says, "We're in the middle of discussions, and they've got nothing to worry about. If some team comes in and signs one of 'em, we'll match it." Henderson made $105,000 last year and is looking to do much, much better.
The 1983-84 Celtics squad was rounded out by Danny Ainge, Quinn Buckner, Scott Wedman, M.L. Carr, Kite and Clark. One or two of these players will probably be missing from next year's team.
-Buckner and Wedman are high-salaried veterans who served limited roles. Wedman has been in the league 10 years, makes $700,000 a season (Cleveland pays half) and often spends longs stretches on the bench. Buckner is an eight- year veteran. If the Celtics sign Henderson and don't trade Ainge, Buckner might become trade bait. But both Wedman and Buckner will be hard to unload because of their age and income.
-Ainge is Boston's top trade bait. His salary escalates to $450,000 next year and $550,000 a year later. You simply don't pay a young talent that kind of money to play the role Ainge has been playing.
He would like to play more, or move on. "I'm curious as to what the team is going to be," Ainge says. "There's been a lot of talk about me moving on, but I don't know. I think there would be some good about me going somewhere else, but I could be happy here, too. I don't think I could accept the same role again, but I have to be the one to do something about it. I'm going to work harder than ever this summer, play in a summer pro league, and work on a weight program . . . I don't intend to play as little as this year, wherever I am."
Auerbach admits he has talked to teams about Ainge, and says, "It never hurts to listen." He has ruled out the possibility of a deal prior to Tuesday's draft.
Ainge has great value. After Wedman went down with a broken leg in Game 4 of the finals, Ainge moved in as the third guard. One Eastern Conference coach paid Ainge a nice compliment, saying, "The Celtics had a blessing in disguise with their guards when Wedman got hurt. If they had continued to play Scott Wedman at guard, there is no way they could have beaten the Lakers."
-Carr said he would retire if the Celtics won the championship. But that was before the conclusion of the Lakers series, and he's not sure now. Carr has one year remaining on his contract, and Auerbach says, "Right now, we're happy with M.L."
-Kite and Clark. The Celtics like Kite. He's a quick study and has a tremendous attitude. He is threatend only if Boston picks a big man in the first round Tuesday, or if Winfred King (who spent the year on the injured list) terrorizes the rookie camp.
Clark is a mystery. Coach K.C. Jones loves the rookie from Mississippi, but Clark was never trusted in a real game situation. He could wind up taking the place of Buckner, or drifting off to the Continental Basketball Assn. The Celtics will be looking for improved ballhandling and more confidence from Clark when camp opens.
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