March 24, 1998
"I agree that Pervis needs to practice and be in shape to contribute, but he's not even remotely interested in retiring," Strickland said yesterday. "We're going to meet and talk about our differences, which I believe are minor. But they can't force him to retire and he is not interested in retiring. It's my job to advise him on such things and I personally will not recommend that he do that."
Apparently there was a conversation between Celtics coach Rick Pitino and Ellisonlast week which led to talk that Ellison retire. On Thursday, Pitino said he only mentioned that possibility to Ellison, a 6-foot-10-inch center who will be 31 in two weeks. Pitino said he was satisfied when he heard that Ellison's heart was still in basketball. But the coach has not been pleased with Ellison's recent conditioning and believes he is not in shape. According to sources, the center was recently fined over his conditioning routine. And if he did leave the Celtics, more than $ 5 million would be cleared from their salary cap.
"The timing of all this was not the greatest," Strickland said. "It was a shot in the dark. I would think that this is something the Celtics would be talking about at the end of the season, not in the middle of a playoff race. And I still think there are some teams that could use Pervis. If you use him in spots, he can be very effective.
"I'm hoping that with this weekend's discussions we can resolve this. I think we can. I don't have alarms going off right now or anything."