While the Knicks and the Rockets battled in the Finals, the activity was equally intense on several other NBA fronts.
?With the June 29 draft looming, several lesser-known players have made names for themselves in the predraft evaluation camps, among them a pair of 6'9" forwards—Brian Grant of Xavier, a Horace Grant type who may have raised himself into the lower hall the lottery, and Dickey Simpkins of Providence, who was named to the all-tournament teams at camps in Portsmouth, Va., and Phoenix. The first center to go may be 6'11" shot blocker Sharone Wright of Clemson. The Boston Celtics, who pick ninth, would love to have him, but he'll probably be gone by then.
One player who hasn't helped himself is Michigan's 6'8" Jalen Rose, who chose not to attend the predraft camp in Chicago two weeks ago. That was a curious decision for a player who still has to convince NBA people that he has a natural position. Rose played both backcourt spots and small forward for the Wolverines, and although he was terrific at times at all three, he wasn't a perfect fit in any of them.
?When the Celtics named their former forward and towel-waver M.L. Carr to replace Dave Gavitt as chief of basketball operations last week (Gavitt was kicked upstairs to vice chairman of the board), it appeared to be more of a public-relations move than a basketball decision. The admittedly inexperienced Carr was hired less for what he knows than for what he is—hardworking, enthusiastic and popular. Larry Bird, incidentally, could have had Carr's job, but he declined, partly out of respect for Gavitt, whom he greatly admires.
?The Philadelphia 76ers took a gamble similar to Boston's in naming ex- San Antonio Spur coach John Lucas as coach and general manager. Lucas's passionate, unorthodox style may be better suited to the bench than to the front office. What is certain is that Lucas had the last laugh in his confrontation with the new Spur owners, who thought he ran too loose a ship and had a particular problem with the freedom he gave eccentric forward Dennis Rodman. They flirted with the idea of firing Lucas after San Antonio's first-round playoff loss to the Utah Jazz, but no sooner had they decided to keep him than Lucas resigned and bolted for Philadelphia.
?No organization—and we use that word loosely—has fallen further faster than the Seattle SuperSonics. Seven weeks ago the Sonics had the home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Now they are first-round losers, and their front office is a shambles. Owner Barry Ackerley said president Bob Whitsitt, the NBA Executive of the Year, asked to be let out of his contract. Whitsitt said he did no such thing. So Ackerley said Whitsitt was on a leave of absence. Whitsitt said he wasn't, but when he showed up for work, all that was left in his office was a desk and a chair. Ackerley is calling Whitsitt's replacement, Wally Walker, a "draft consultant." Meanwhile, at week's end coach George Karl was threatening to leave unless his contract was extended before the draft.
? NBA commissioner David Stern says the league is not "fundamentally opposed" to having boxing promoter Bob Arum's Top Rank, Inc. as part of the NBA, even though it's sale to assume the league wants no part of the shady reputation associated with boxing. So let's call it a fortunate coincidence for the NBA that the league's relocation committee found reason to recommend that the owners disapprove, on financing grounds, the proposed sale of the Minnesota Timber-wolves to Top Rank, which would have moved the Wolves to New Orleans. Now the Wolves (20-62 this season) will almost certainly be in Minneapolis for at least another year. Their fans will have to decide if that's a good thing.