Schintzius Staying, Stewart Not
January 22, 1999
Schintzius Staying, Stewart Not
WALTHAM - Michael Stewart and Tony Battie were actually in Boston together. For a few hours. Unfortunately for the Celtics, the two 6-foot-10-inch men are not teammates.
The Celtics knew they had several questions to answer for the beginning of training camp yesterday. One of the top ones was, "Can we sign free agent Michael Stewart?" Answer: No.
Stewart and his agent, Bill Duffy, spent Wednesday afternoon touring the Celtics' facilities. Yesterday morning, they talked with Rick Pitino and Chris Wallace, telling the coach and general manager that they would make a decision after breakfast. So, at noon, the call came. Stewart was signing with the Toronto Raptors.
The Celtics were hoping to add Stewart to a front line that includes the newly acquired Battie, power forward Popeye Jones and, possibly, the 7-2, 285-pound Dwayne Schintzius. But, according to Pitino, the Raptors were able to offer a financial package greater than the Celtics'.
At least the "What Did We Miss In Stewart?" debates won't last long. Fans will be able to see plenty of the big man immediately. The Celtics play the Raptors in an exhibition game at Toronto on Tuesday, meet them in another at the FleetCenter next Friday, then open the regular-season against them Feb. 5.
During that time, Boston fans also will see a 240-pounder from Dallas who has the Batman logo tattooed on his left biceps ("Batman" is his favorite movie).
Battie - who emphasizes the "Bat" in his name - is expected to back up Antoine Walker at power forward. But, he said, "I'm going to find a way to get on the court."
The Celtics nearly drafted Battie in 1997 but chose to go with Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer. The Denver Nuggets drafted Battie with the fifth pick and quickly traded him to the Lakers for Nick Van Exel. Before officially becoming a Laker, Battie found himself coming to Boston in exchange for Travis Knight.
After leaving Denver, Battie was ripped by Nuggets basketball chief Dan Issel, who called him "El Busto." Battie was asked about that.
"Maybe he said that in the heat of the moment," said Battie. "I'm not worried about it." The Celtics don't want to hear it, either. They know Battie blocked eight shots against them last season, during a rare Nuggets victory (they won 11 of 82 games). They also know that 8.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.06 blocked shots in 23 minutes a night are numbers they can use.
He'll be around
Stewart's selection of Toronto means Schintzius should start looking for a place to live around here. Pitino said yesterday the Celtics will not be able to draft nor sign the center they want. "We'll have to build one,"
he said. That means they'll probably keep the ex-Spur/King/ Net/Pacer/Clipper center on the roster. "We're going to need him," Walker said of Schintzius, whose career high in games played is 43. Pitino said the big man's role will be to lean on the Patrick Ewings and Shaquille O'Neals of the NBA. He won't have to worry about Shaq until the Finals, because the Celtics don't play the Lakers in the abbreviated regular season . . .
The Celtics were so eager to begin business that Wallace was in the office at 5 a.m. The GM explained that teams were required to do two days' work in a couple hours, so he needed the extra time . . . Wallace also had the line of the day when someone mentioned his weight loss (53 pounds since May 1). "I'm the Ally McBeal of general managers," he said. He also joked that in some professions you have to dress like your boss. But with the exercise-conscious Pitino, he said, "In this job you have to exercise like your boss." Wallace was busy yesterday, preparing the contracts of Walker, Paul Pierce, and Popeye Jones.
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