When the Lakers made Oregon State forward A.C. Green their No. 1 draft choice last month, the 23rd pick overall, they hoped to have him signed, sealed and delivered by Wednesday.
They had to settle for one of the three.
After receiving disability insurance for Green's protection, Leon Jordan, the Portland attorney serving as his agent, delivered the former Pacific 10 Player of the Year to Loyola Marymount University Wednesday for the start of two-a-day Laker workouts leading into summer league play.
The signing and sealing is going to take a little longer.
Green is asking for a multiyear guaranteed contract. He wants a three-year deal. Jordan, however, wants Green to shoot for a five-year deal. Jordan said that Jerry West, Laker general manager, has talked about four years.
"Obviously, the fact that we're here means we think we are close," said Jordan as he watched Green run up and down the Loyola floor. "Mr. West is a man of his word. He appreciates the fact that we're here so things may be done.
"(The Lakers) want him here. It doesn't hurt to have another 6-9 guy who can run the court. And he wants to be here. He doesn't care about money. He doesn't want to play business. We want to get it over with. He wants to play basketball first and foremost. He will play in the summer league unless things totally fall apart, and I don't think that will happen."
The problem is the salary cap. Since the Lakers are over it, the most they can offer Green for next season is $75,000.
"Seventy-five thousand is a starting point, depending on what the Lakers do," Jordan said. "There is a salary cap, but there are 20 exceptions to it. Maybe the dollars we miss this year, they can make up in the future.
"The one thing we will not do is sign a one-year contract. That is not fair. I don't care what any person last year may have got (last year's top Laker pick, Earl Jones, was given a one-year deal). I care what my player's potential value to the team is. This is not a trial thing. He has proved himself over the long haul."
Said West: "If we didn't have the first-year limit to contend with, it would be no problem. It's not going to be easy. It's not fair to the young man, but we have to live by the rules.
"It might be in his best interests to wait at this point, reach an agreement to agree. Then, we can make some sort of determination how we are going to satisfy him once we see if we are going to do something else in terms of our personnel."
Translation: First, let's see what happens with Bob McAdoo and the other Laker free agents.
The Lakers did not exercise their option on McAdoo's contract, thus turning him into a free agent. They could use the $933,000 figure he earned last year to sign Green, or to go after another another free agent such as center Bill Walton.
"I don't foresee that at this point," West said of the Walton possibility.
Or, they could re-sign McAdoo at a lower figure, a move West won't rule out.
Said West of Rambis: "We are at an impasse right now, but we're not that far off." Of McGee, he said: "We hope to settle that next week."
So while all the moves are pondered and debated, Green will continue to work at Loyola, keeping one eye on the ball and the other on the negotiating table.
"I'm going to play in the meantime," he said. "It won't do me any good to be back home. Money's not a concern. I just want to play, but it's a business, and I've got to be fair to myself. I sit in on the talks. And when I have comments, I state them. It's my life."