The Clippers have called a 1 p.m. press conference at the Sports Arena to make what a team spokesman described as "a major announcement." That announcement will be that Baylor has replaced General Manager Carl Scheer.
Baylor met with Alan Rothenberg, the Clippers' president, for several hours Monday to negotiate a contract. Baylor, sources said, will assume control of all basketball decisions, which has been Scheer's major responsibility for the last two seasons.
Coach Don Chaney, whose chances of being re-hired should improve significantly with Baylor's hiring, is expected to meet informally with Baylor before this afternoon's press conference. But a decision on Chaney is not expected today.
Scheer told friends over the weekend that it is "90% certain" he will not return as general manager. Monday afternoon, however, Scheer said he still has his job--"at this moment, I'm still in charge," Scheer said. But highly placed Clipper sources confirmed that Scheer is on the way out.
Rothenberg would not comment, and Baylor could not be reached Monday night.
But in a brief interview with The Times earlier Monday, Baylor confirmed he is close to joining the Clippers. He is expected to have control over trades, the coaching situation and draft picks.
"We're still in the process of working out an agreement," Baylor said. "I don't really want to say much until it is settled. It could be the terms (of the contract) that might delay it, if it is delayed. The three of us (Baylor, Rothenberg and owner Donald T. Sterling) are going to discuss it today (Monday).
"I am really looking forward to working with the Clippers. I hope we can settle it today."
Baylor, 51, has long wanted to return to the National Basketball Assn. after being fired as coach of the New Orleans Jazz in 1979. He had a 86-135 coaching record. Baylor, who had a career scoring average of 27.4 in 14 seasons with the Lakers, in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, has been working as a vice-president at a postal firm and also making personal appearances.
Baylor has been Sterling's courtside guest at several Clipper games over the last two seasons. Baylor's last appearance with Sterling at the Sports Arena was at a game in early March. After the game, a Clipper win, Baylor and Sterling met briefly with Chaney and his staff.
Under Scheer's command, the Clippers posted a 31-51 record in 1984-85 and 32-50 in the just-concluded season. The team missed the playoffs both seasons.
Scheer, 49, said he had no knowledge that Baylor was close to joining the Clipper front office to run the basketball operation. Scheer's other major duty as general manager has been the daily running of the office and staff. Baylor will not assume those responsibilities, but Andy Roeser, Sterling's chief financial officer, has been mentioned as a candidate for that job.
"I really haven't talked to Alan about (Baylor)," Scheer said Monday. "I know Elgin is a confidant of Don (Sterling's) and a friend of Alan's, and I don't know how that affects me."
Sources close to situation said the Clippers asked Scheer to resign a week ago. Scheer reportedly refused because that would mean the Clippers would not have to pay the remaining salary in his contract, which runs out at the end of June. Scheer, according to sources, has retained Philip Marantz, a Los Angeles lawyer who also is legal counsel to the Utah Jazz, to try to reach a contract settlement with Sterling.
Now that Scheer's status apparently has been settled, Chaney's soon will be decided.
Scheer, sources said, wanted to fire Chaney and replace him with Tom Nissalke near the midway point in the just-concluded regular season, but Sterling apparently wanted to retain Chaney until the end of the season.
Sterling's policy is to not talk with the media.
Scheer's job has been in jeopardy since the end of last season. As reported last month in The Times, Sterling considered replacing Scheer with Baylor last April. Sterling's proposal had Baylor taking over as director of player personnel, former Clipper vice-president Bob King taking over the administrative duties and Roeser assuming all the financial dealings.
In February, Roeser met with King in Denver and asked King to recommend people with administrative backgrounds to replace Scheer. King, who has since taken a marketing job with the New Jersey Nets, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Rothenberg recently told sportswriters that Scheer's alleged misuse of just under $10,000 in company funds, which was detailed in the March 15 edition of The Times, has no bearing on deciding Scheer's fate.
But sources close to the situation said Sterling reacted strongly to a series of memos from Roeser detailing Scheer's "flagrant abuses" of his company credit card, checking account and the club's travel agency. According to team documents, Scheer charged $9,874.42 of what Roeser deemed as personal expenses to the company. Documents show that Scheer, through paycheck deductions imposed upon him by the team, has repaid the entire amount.
After Scheer's financial dispute was published, Rothenberg supported Scheer, calling him "an honest and decent man." David Stern, commissioner of the NBA, also came to the defense of Scheer's character.
However, sources said that Sterling has not dealt directly with Scheer for a few months. Last month, Scheer told The Times that Sterling had been passing word on team matters to him through Roeser. Said Scheer in an earlier interview: "I've had battles with Andy Roeser . . . He's a 27-year-old accountant fresh out of an accounting firm and he's driving me crazy."
In the two seasons since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles from San Diego, Rothenberg and Scheer have publicly disagreed on several major issues.
The most publicized disagreement occurred last season when Scheer opposed the Clippers' attempt to nullify last season's Marques Johnson trade with Milwaukee because they claimed the Bucks withheld information concerning Johnson's previous drug treatment. Scheer wrote a pointed memo to Sterling, pleading for him not to file suit against the Bucks. Sterling, however, sided with Rothenberg on that decision.