The Celtics used the third pick in the National Basketball Association draft to select Minnesota's Kevin McHale today, a move that was expected following yesterday's trade of the No. 1 selection.
The Celtics acquired the No.3 pick in the draft yesterday, when they traded the No. 1 pick and the No. 13 pick to Golden State for 7-foot center Robert Parish and the Warriors first pick in the draft, the third overall.
McHale, 6 foot-11, averaged 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds a game at Minnesota, and was named to both the All-America and All-Big Ten teams.
But McHale's stock really soared after his brilliant performance in last March's three-day Aloha Classic Tournament in Honolulu, where he was the MVP.
"I'm elated," McHale said from New York. "No. 3 was No. 1 for me. When I came here (to New York), I thought Golden State would be the team and Ron Simond, my agent, said, Hey, Kevin, did you hear that Boston just made a trade?' I said, Holy cow!' because that put a whole new perspective on it.
"I remember last night, lying in bed thinking it would be great to play in Boston. It's a team I could fit in with without a lot of pressure on me, and it would be fun playing with The Bird.
"I remeber being a little kid watching Red Auerbach coaching on television. It's like a dream come true - a super place to go.
"I have to admire Boston. They got two players with one pick. When they go about doing something, they do it right. That's impressive."
One of McHale's biggest boosters is general manager Jerry Colangelo of the Phoenix Suns,
"He (McHale) has excellent hands and good timing," said Colangelo, who is regarded as one of the most astute judges of talent in the NBA. "You can't say he's a great jumper, but he makes up for it with his timing and playing so hard.
"Offensively," added Colangelo, "he has an asortment of shots. He developed very well in college. As a freshman, he looked like a prospect. He had a rawbone frame that you'd expect could fill out. That's exactly waht happened."
On the last pick of the second round, the 46th overall, the Celtics drafted 6-7 forward Arnette Hallman of Purdue. Hallman is known as a quick forward with good defensive skills.
On the eighth choice of the third round, the 54th pick overall, Boston drafted guard Ronnie Perry of Holy Cross, the all-time New England scoring leader.
What the Celtics did yesterday, in effect, was trade the 13th spot in the draft for Parish, a four-year veteran who is expected to provide defensive intimidation, rebounding and scoring (17 points per game the past two years)
from the center position, while exchanging the first and third spots with a team coveting a player who, after much analysis, simply did not turn them on. "What it boils down to," opines Denver general manager Carl Scheer, who had lusted for McHale in the days before he entered this final celestial realm, "is how much you like or dislike both Carroll and Parish. It's just your personal opinion. Obviously, Boston did not have a lot of confidence in Carroll."
It's interesting that the 22-year-old Carroll and the soon-to-be 27-year- old Parish (Aug. 30) should be involved in the same trade, for it is Parish with whom Carroll often has been compared as a prospect. "Their bodies and their playing skills are very much alike," said Bill Fitch. "If you handed each man a sheet this summer asking them to work on certain things in the offseason, it would contain the same things. However, we won't have to worry about how Parish reacts to NBA officials, NBA travel or NBA life in general. If Robert Parish were coming out with this year's crop of college players, there is no doubt he would go No. 1."
Parish was the 1976 first-round draft choice of the Warriors. He has compiled some impressive stats in his NBA career, but he has left too many people with the impression that he doesn't care. Nevertheless, he was fourth in the NBA in blocked shots two years ago, a season in which he also led the league in defensive rebounds per minutes played. He finished seventh in
rebounding this season (10.9 per game), but his blocked shots fell off by a whopping 102, a situation he attributes to a balky ankle.
The Celtics are of the opinion that he has things to learn, and that he will benefit greatly from his new surroundings. Says one rival coach: "I've never been a Parish fan. I've always wondered about his motivation. But guys have a way of turning around when they get into that Celtic green."
Parish was expendable for three reasons. The first was Golden State's positive feeling about Carroll. The second was the fact that Parish is a high- post center (he has an excellent 15-foot jumper) on a team loaded with perimeter players. "It was easier," says Stirling, "to trade him than the rest of the frontcourt." The final reason was the fact that the Warriors, who have failed to make the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, needed to make a change for change's sake. "They're going nowhere," explains another general manager. This was shock treatment. As for the Celtics, they decided to take the proven commodity rather than the kid."
The swap of the Nos. 1 and 3 gives the Celtics a shot at McHale, a player who has grown on just about every scout, general manager and coach. And the Celtics were not subtle. It's McHale they're after, not Griffith. This is not to say that they don't value Griffith. "Should Utah change their mind and take McHale," says Fitch, "you won't hear any moaning and groaning from us. It's not bad when the worst that can happen to you is getting Darrell Griffith."
However, the addition of McHale does pose certain questions. Are the Celtics writing off Cedric (Free Agent) Maxwell? Both Red Auerbach and Fitch vehemently deny this is the case. Are the Celtics dissatisfied with Rick Robey? Again, there is a denial. In fact, Fitch issued an unsolicited Robey testimonial during yesterday's press conference, and made sure that a positive mention of Robey be included in the accompanying press release. Finally, can the Celtics possibly find room for Dave Cowens, Maxwell, Larry Bird, Robey, M.L. Carr, McHale and Parish in the course of the average 48-minute game?
Fitch is determined to stockpile talent up front; that's all there is to it. "People get hurt," he says. "And suppose we lose Maxwell, or Cowens graduates' (Fitch talk for retires') next year. We'll be covered. And Carr can move to guard."
The Celtics had been expected to include a guard in any possible maneuverings with the draft picks, but instead they left themselves with only Carr as a reinforcement for a backcourt not overloaded with speed. "Look at the names of the players people were talking about at No. 13," Fitch points out. "Larry Drew, John Duren, Hawkeye Whitney. M.L. is a lot surer than any of them, or even anyone coming out next year."
As for McHale, the feeling around the league is that he is heading to the right place. "He's hard-working," lauds one rival. "A banger. He can play both positions. What else can I say? He's a Celtic."
Meanwhile, the Celtics are assembling a truly monstrous collection of physical players. The team that for 20 years was the league's smallest could now go 7-foot, 6-11, 6-11, 6-9, 6-8 and 6-8 up front. They're going to be a helluva sight at the airport.