The Knicks also seem to have eased their backcourt problem considerably with an 11th-hour trade, getting the Lakers' Dick (Fall Back Baby) Barnett for Forward Bob Boozer. Barnett, a marvelous off-balance shooter, should also give the Knicks a colorful gate attraction. So—all together now, sing one chorus of Who Needs You, Bill Bradley?—it appears that New York could finally finish ahead of someone, probably the Royals. Red Holzman has done a superb job of scouting, forcing the Knicks to go with youth. Coach Harry Gallatin had three rookies playing more than anyone else last year—Rookie of the Year Willis Reed (19.9), Bad News Barnes and little Howie Komives. Holzman has come up with another good trio this year, and they pushed some veterans into unplanned retirement. All three rookies were collegiate forwards, but the Knicks have already shifted 6-foot-4 Dick Van Arsdale to the backcourt, and 6-foot-7 All-America Dave Stallworth will be moved there soon. Gallatin undoubtedly has observed Stall-worth's fondness for the ball and his petulant air when it is not promptly passed to him. In addition, the word is already out among NBA corner men that Stallworth does not enjoy a scrap. However, no one is demeaning his other skills—the players think he has the moves, vision and shooting and passing ability to cut it in company with the Joneses and Wests, and he does have four inches on most of them. Not surprisingly, Gallatin—a stolid old rebounder and defender himself—is more concerned with Stallworth's defensive shortcomings. He suffers particularly by comparison with the third new man, Barry Clemens, who will stay at forward. Clemens has the same skills Gallatin had—and reminding the coach of his own days of glory is not a bad quality in a rookie. Clemens has lots of muscles and is studying to be an optometrist. Stall-worth is studying to be a superstar. Holzman is already studying next year's draft list, fortunately for Ned Irish.
Five days before the season opened the Cincinnati team came to contract terms with management, the Cincinnati team—and franchise, if you will—being Oscar Robertson. "Listen," one Royal had said during the holdout, "they can cut me 25% and give it to Oscar if it means bringing him back. That's how important he is to us." Wisely, the player did not make this statement within earshot of the front office or he might have had a deal. As it was, the Cincinnati team finally signed for about $70,000 cash, various bonuses based on the gate, and the use of a car.
Not that all the Royals admire Oscar's personality, on or off the court, but he means so much to the team that the weeks spent practicing without him might just as well have been spent playing amiable games of horse. This year, however, even with Oscar, the Royals are going to have to struggle to make .500—which is all they managed the second half of last year anyway. Perhaps this is why Oscar wanted more of that cold-cash guarantee, for since the dream of threatening the Celtics faded, so has the gate. The Royals have not exactly been Auerbachs in the draft, their only good choices in the last few years being Oscar and Jerry Lucas—territorial picks that hardly required much acumen. This year the draft disaster was not management's fault, however. The first two choices—Nate Bowman of Wichita and Flynn Robinson of Wyoming—were clipped by injury and illness. But the third choice, Jon McGlocklin of Indiana, not only seems to be a real sleeper but also precisely what the team needed, the big guard to replace retired Arlen Bockhorn behind Robertson and Adrian Smith. McGlocklin, a dedicated young man, is 6 feet 5 and 205, but he was pretty much overlooked at Indiana, where the Van Arsdales outnumbered him. On campus, though, he was referred to with respect as "The Third Twin," and quietly managed to average 17.2, hit 54% and become something of a legend as a free-throw shooter. He hit 91 for 100 in practice and left the line muttering deep disappointment. McGlocklin has the advantage of having played guard as a collegian, which few kids 6 feet 5 ever do. The Royals need height most everywhere. Coach Jack Mc-Mahon had counted on Bowman to bring some to center, where Wayne Embry glares up at the monsters. Embry suddenly became injury-prone last year, Forward Jack Twyman is only 6 feet 6 and all of 31, and All-Star Lucas—though he has never looked better—has the maximum possible number of bad knees. McMahon has three good bench forwards—Tom Hawkins, Happy Hairston and Bud Olsen—which gives him some option there, but Oscar must carry this team more than ever. The car the Royals gave him won't help for that kind of portage.