First-round pick Al Wood (chronic left shoulder) will shuttle between guard and forward, John Drew (stress-fractured left foot) and Roundfield are set at forward, Rollins at center and the diminutive Eddie Johnson (suspended list) and Wes Matthews (broken left foot) at guard. James McElroy and 5'8" Charlie Criss opened the season at guard. Rookie Rudy Macklin from LSU filled in opposite Roundfield. And rookie Clyde Bradshaw shored up the backline.
Speaking of his team's training camp, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS Coach Don Delaney said, "This isn't to get the players in shape. We expect them to be in shape. They are here to learn Cavaliers basketball." But first they must learn each other's names. Joining the team are three free agents: Forward Scott Wedman from Kansas City, Guard Bobby Wilkerson from Chicago and Edwards from Indiana. Another new face is playmaker James Silas, acquired from San Antonio. They will join holdovers Bill Laimbeer, a center, and forwards Kenny Carr and Mike Mitchell. Mitchell scored 24.5 points per game last season, eighth-best in the league, and set club records for minutes played, field goals and points. The backcourt also has depth in the person of Roger Phegley (14.4 ppg last season). Besides finding playing time for all those guys, the problem might be paying them. Last year the Cavs lost at least $4 million—and then they hit the free-agent market. Cutting the roster won't help either; 12 of the players in camp had guaranteed contracts.
No less a source than Magic Johnson says rookie Isiah Thomas from Indiana University will turn things around for the DETROIT PISTONS. The last time a sophomore who led his team to the NCAA championship turned pro, he immediately led his new club to the NBA title. That man was, of course, Johnson. Thomas has little chance of pulling off a similar feat, although his 31 and 28 points helped beat the Bucks and Bulls, respectively, to get the Pistons out of the gate quickly last weekend. Sure, Detroit will be improved—but not much. During the preseason Thomas was throwing passes and expecting to see Ray Tolbert and Randy Wittman on the receiving end; what he was getting was Paul Mokeski and Kent Benson. A surprise starter with Phil Hubbard at forward was rookie Kelly Tripucka from Notre Dame. He had 15 and 19 last weekend. Thomas's teammates will get used to him and vice versa, but Coach Scotty Robertson isn't expecting that to happen overnight: "Last year my goal was to be competitive every night. This year I want a team that's knocking on the door of a break-even season. I know people are going to say, 'Gee, he isn't even talking about the playoffs,' but I'm a realist."