Carr and Ford Discuss Future
June 16, 1994
M.L. Carr and Chris Ford met for more than two hours yesterday, and both came away certain of at least one thing: The 1994-95 Boston Celtics will not be like the 1993-94 Celtics. They may not even have the same coach.
Carr said he made no promises to Ford in their meeting, which, the new basketball boss said, dealt almost exclusively with personnel and philosophy. Ford has been up front about wanting a contract extension, but Carr said he told the coach that the team came first. Ford agreed.
"Until yesterday, I think Chris might have had the blinders on," Carr said. "He was worried about his contract, and I understand that. But I said to Chris, 'Look, let's leave Chris Ford and M.L. Carr out of this and let's think what's best for the Boston Celtics. We'll get to Chris Ford eventually. There are more pressing needs right now.' And I think after our meeting, we were able to refocus that."'
Had he decided to at least keep Ford this season, the last year of the coach's contract?
"No," he said. "I haven't made that judgment yet. I don't want to spend Paul Gaston's money foolishly. If, after all of our talks and meetings, if Chris is not the right person for this, we'll get another coach. But I can't make a decision like that in 24 hours."
Carr isn't unsympathetic to the coach's situation, however, and asked Ford to have his agent, Lonnie Cooper, call in the next several days. Ford had the backing of previous basketball boss Dave Gavitt for an extension and has a long personal history with Carr. They were teammates not only on the Celtics but on the Detroit Pistons.
"Chris is a friend," Carr said. "But that can't be the prerequisite for my judgment."
Carr's first day on the job was, as he promised, active. He had spent the previous night at a reading by his 12-year-old daughter, Andrea, and then was on the phone for almost four hours. One of his calls was to NBA commissioner David Stern, who, Carr said, welcomed him back into the league.
"Then Rod Thorn NBA operations chief got on the line and I told him I had no more fines to pay," Carr cracked.
He also got a call from Dino Radja, who checked in from Italy. He was the only current player Carr spoke with in the hours after getting the job. "I told him to come back in shape. He said he would," Carr said.
After a sleepless night - "I was too pumped up to sleep," he said - he spent yesterday at Brandeis as the Celtics brought in three more potential draftees: Khalid Reeves of Arizona, Brian Grant of Xavier and Thomas Hamilton, a 7-foot-4-inch, 400-pounder who sometimes is mistaken for the Grand Coulee Dam.
Then it was behind closed doors with the coach. They went over all the players on the roster, and Carr said he wanted straight answers.
"I didn't throw Chris any softballs. It was all fastballs. No curves, either," he said.
He got them. And he said he and Ford agreed on the direction the team must take.
"The one thing that came out of this meeting, the one thing that we both agreed on, was that we have to have an up-tempo team next year," Carr said. "We have to get players who can run. We have to get players who can get the ball off the boards. And we have to get people who are active on defense."
He said that was not the team he saw last year. Last year's Celtics had no identity, Carr said, "and the players give the team an identity, along with the leadership of the coach."
Carr planned to visit former teammate and Celtics captain Robert Parish last night, figuring the two could at least discuss what's needed. "The best thing about that," Carr said, "is that I'm not tampering. He's one of my guys."
But he was realistic about the chances of bringing Parish back. The Celtics need to rebuild, and the only money they have is money that would surface by not re-signing Parish.
"The future is what is important," Carr said. "If there's any way to build for the future and have Chief somehow be a part of that, I'd be elated. But I can't allow the future of this team to be affected by something else."
By the time he arrived back home last night, Carr had also heard from Bill Walton, Dave Cowens, Jo Jo White and Spike Lee.
"It just goes on and on," he said.
Ford said he was impressed by both Reeves and Grant, both of whom could be top 10 picks in the June 29 draft. "Reeves is a shooter and he has a strong body," Ford said. The drawback is that Reeves is the same height as Dee Brown. "I like guards who can play," Ford said. "We'll worry about the height after that." As for Grant, who is rising like heated mercury in the draft, Ford said, "he is becoming more and more sought after. He had a great Phoenix Desert Classic and is building on that." Hamilton is the longest of long shots. He is only 19. "It's like talking to Christopher," Ford said, referring to his oldest son. "He has an awful lot of work to do. But he has a surprising touch." Asked if he thought Hamilton should return to school, Ford said, "That is not a bad alternative." Carr said no workouts were planned for today.
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