76er Deals Shake Up the Team and the Draft : Lakers Receive Billy Thompson for McGee; Clippers Take Polee
Yes, the Lakers got the player they wanted in the college draft.
No, they didn’t have to trade James Worthy to get him.
On draft day Tuesday, trade rumors swirled around the Lakers, who did make one swap to get 6-foot 8-inch forward Billy Thompson of NCAA champion Louisville in a four-player deal that sent veteran guard Mike McGee to the Atlanta Hawks.
But one proposed trade rumor that got some play in the media never came off. It would have sent Worthy to the Dallas Mavericks for Mark Aguirre and rookie forward Roy Tarpley of Michigan, the No. 7 pick in Tuesday’s draft.
Laker General Manager Jerry West admitted that he had talked about some sort of trade with the Mavericks, but he refused to reveal what players had been discussed.
“I am not going to confirm you people’s continued rumors,” said West, who seemed to be unsure of what Tarpley might have meant to the Lakers and what the cost would have been.
“We don’t want to destroy something very good for something someone else thinks is good,” West added.
Rick Sund, the Mavericks’ director of player personnel, said: “There are an awful lot of trade rumors floating around, but there’s not an awful lot of validity to them. To be honest, we’re very happy to have Roy Tarpley.”
The Lakers were just as glad to have Thompson, although it took some maneuvering to get him. Atlanta drafted Thompson with the No. 19 pick in the first round, four spots before the Lakers, who took 6-10 power forward Ken Barlow of Notre Dame.
Before working out their deal with Atlanta, the Lakers had also talked to Denver, Houston and Washington about trading for Thompson, should any of those teams have drafted him.
Thompson, a versatile athlete who can work at either small forward or shooting guard, was the player the Lakers wanted all along, but they knew he wouldn’t be available to them when they picked 23rd so they concentrated their efforts on a deal with the Hawks.
After Utah had made the 15th selection, the Hawks called the Lakers and said they were interested in a trade.
The deal sent McGee, a five-year veteran guard, plus the rights to Barlow, to the Hawks. Besides the rights to Thompson, the Lakers got the rights to 6-5 guard-forward Ron Kellogg of Kansas, who was the Hawks’ second-round choice and the No. 42 pick overall.
McGee, 26, was the Lakers’ first-round draft choice in 1981. Last season, he averaged 8.3 points and 17.1 minutes a game in 71 games.
“We hated to lose Mike McGee, but this was too good a deal for us,” West said. “We obviously feel that Billy Thompson is a player who could be a very fine player for us.”
Thompson averaged 14.9 points for Coach Denny Crum’s Louisville team.
Thompson belonged to the Hawks for less than an hour, until the trade was worked out. He waited with his family in Somerdale, N.J., for the rumored trade to be completed.
“I was going through the same excitement of being drafted by Atlanta, then I got a call I might be traded,” Thompson said. “That put me back in the same position as before--waiting and a little nervous.”
Across town from the Forum in the Sports Arena, the Clippers waited a long time before they made their first choice in the third round. With the No. 54 overall selection, the Clippers chose 6-6 guard Dwayne Polee of Pepperdine, a two-time WCAC most valuable player.
“We were surprised that he was around at that late a stage in the draft,” said Elgin Baylor, the Clippers’ director of basketball operations. “We feel like he’s better than some of the players taken ahead of him. He’s a hard worker and he can play two positions, the point and the off-guard. He has potential.”
With their second pick, the 78th overall, the Clippers drafted 6-11 1/2 John Brownlee of Texas in the fourth round.
“At that point, you just hope you can find a player,” Baylor said. “He doesn’t have a lot of speed, but he has pretty good offense and pretty decent defense.”
The Clippers’ picks in Rounds 5 through 7 were 6-8 forward Steffond Johnson of San Diego State, 6-9 1/2 center Tim Kempton of Notre Dame and 6-6 forward Johnny Brown of New Mexico.
The Lakers also chose 5-11 point guard Andre Turner of Memphis State in the third round, 6-5 1/2 guard Dale Blaney of West Virginia in the fourth, 6-1 1/2 guard Roger Harden of Kentucky in the fifth, 6-9 1/2 forward Walter Downing of Marquette in the sixth and 6-3 guard Mark Coleman of Mississippi Valley State in the seventh. Coleman was the 161st player--next to last--chosen.
Thompson, one of the nation’s most sought-after high school players in 1981, did not really play up to expectations over the second half of his senior season at Louisville but had some impressive games in the NCAA tournament.
The only Louisville player to rank in the school’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists has been compared to another former Cardinal star, Rodney McCray.
“The rumor about Billy Thompson is whether he will come to play every night,” Laker Coach Pat Riley said. “I think he will.”
West said: “We like players that come from winning organizations. He’s one of the more talented players in the draft.”
Draft Notes Laker General Manager Jerry West, upset by Laker trade rumors that reported in some newspapers, threatened to impose a “gag rule” on Laker employees to stop leaks. “You can’t imagine how difficult it makes our job,” West said. “We would hope to do our business in-house.” . . . Elgin Baylor, the Clippers’ director of basketball operations, said the Clippers could have gotten a No. 1 draft pick for Kurt Nimphius but decided against it. . . . The Lakers said there could still be at least one more trade to bring in a tall player. “It’s obvious we do have to get long and tall, and the draft showed that today with what the other teams picked,” Coach Pat Riley said. “But we’re not going to destroy the team to get that way. These things are not done overnight.” . . . Said West about Ron Kellogg, obtained in the trade with the Hawks: “He’s a tremendous athlete. Simply, he may be the best shooter I’ve ever seen shoot a basketball.” West also said that second-round draft choices have 25% chances to make NBA teams. . . . The Lakers’ seven draft choices will join six other players at a camp for rookies and free agents starting Monday at Loyola Marymount. Free agents invited include Audie Norris, formerly of Portland; 7-1 Ron Crevier, who spent time last season with Detroit and Golden State; Clinton Wheeler and former UCLA guard Nigel Miguel, both of whom played last season in the Continental Basketball Assn.; former Cleveland forward John Garris, and Charles Hawthorne, who played at Geneva College in Pennsylvania.
Round Player Pos. School 1st Ken Barlow F Notre Dame 3rd Andre Turner G Memphis State 4th Dale Blaney G West Virginia 5th Roger Harden G Kentucky 6th Walter Downing F Marquette 7th Mark Coleman G Miss. Valley State
Round Player Pos. School 3rd Dwayne Polee G Pepperdine 4th John Brownlee C Texas 5th Steffond Johnson F San Diego State 6th Tim Kempton C Notre Dame 7th Johnny Brown F New Mexico