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Scheer Is the Clippers’ Designated Spokesman . . . on Most Matters

Times Staff Writer

Because of earlier disagreements among Clipper executives after they had learned of Marques Johnson’s 1983 drug problems, club President Alan Rothenberg has agreed to let General Manager Carl Scheer serve as the club’s sole spokesman on all but legal matters.

When negotiating his new multi-year contract last month, Scheer sought and got an oral agreement that limits Rothenberg to making statements concerning only the Clippers’ legal affairs. Scheer said Monday that he wanted the agreement as a way of defining his role as general manager and also to put an end to sometimes conflicting statements that he and Rothenberg have issued.

“This was not a sore point with me,” Scheer said. “It was just that there was a misinterpretation among the general public because they would hear two different things. We were sending out mixed signals. The fact of the matter is, the general manager shouldn’t be saying different things than the president.”

Since Rothenberg and general counsel Arn Tellem are involved with the legal aspects of the club, Scheer said he was not informed when the Clippers filed suit June 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks. The suit seeks to nullify the six-player trade between the teams because the Bucks had not told the Clippers of Johnson’s stay in a drug rehabilitation facility in July of 1983.

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“I had no idea they had filed the suit,” Scheer said. “I am the chief operating officer of the club. There are a lot of decisions that are going on. I knew they were working on it, but I didn’t know they had filed it. I’m involved in legal strategy, but only as it affects the running of the club.”

The trade and its ramifications have been the source of several public disagreements between Scheer and Rothenberg in the last year. When the Clippers learned of Johnson’s drug history Feb. 9, Rothenberg said that the Clippers would have “thought twice” about making the trade with the Bucks if they had known. But Scheer maintained that he still would have made the trade.

They also disagreed about releasing a statement supporting Johnson. Scheer wanted to let the matter rest, but Rothenberg overruled him and issued a brief press release.

“Alan and I agree on most things,” Scheer said. “But it’s more credible from our franchise’s aspect to have one spokesman. That makes sense. We haven’t disagreed on one thing. The only differences we had were on how to publicly handle the Marques Johnson situation and the (Paul) Westhead thing.”

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Scheer reportedly was upset recently when Rothenberg called Paul Westhead, former coach of the Lakers and Chicago Bulls, the leading candidate to become Coach Don Chaney’s top assistant. Rothenberg and owner Donald T. Sterling were leaning toward Westhead. Scheer and Chaney wanted to hire either Don Casey or Tom Nissalke. Neither has been hired so far.

Rothenberg said there is no written agreement prohibiting him from publicly discussing things other than legal matters, but he would not comment Monday on several prospective trades the Clippers are negotiating. In the past, Rothenberg openly talked about every aspect of the club. “Carl is obviously the guy up front,” Rothenberg said. “I’m not going to comment on anything.”

Later, Rothenberg added: “Carl and I are on the same wave length. I think we always have been.”

Said Scheer: “Sometimes, we just got our signals mixed.”

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Clipper Notes

General Manager Carl Scheer and President Alan Rothenberg said they talked to Marques Johnson before filing the suit against the Bucks that conceivably could nullify the trade and send Johnson back to Milwaukee. The suit will be heard July 15 in a Los Angeles federal court. “He understands,” Scheer said. “I explained to Marques that it wasn’t a personal matter, that it didn’t reflect how we felt about him. We felt the transaction was tainted, nothing against him personally. I tried to explain to him that (saying they wanted to rescind the trade) was just part of the pleading in the case.” Added Coach Don Chaney: “I’m sure it probably upset Marques. Here’s a player in a city where he thinks he’s going to stay for a couple years. Then, he hears this. But I try to stay as far away as possible and just do my job.” Johnson could not be reached for comment. . . . Chaney said Monday that he still hasn’t decided between Don Casey and Tom Nissalke as his top assistant. But Scheer said that Casey is the “prime candidate.” Said Chaney: “We’ll decide right after the draft. I’ve interviewed both guys and the decision will come from Carl and myself.”


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