Does <i> Everyone</i> Want to Play for the Lakers?
What a wild weekend it was.
First, the Lakers made an offer to Miami’s Sherman Douglas, irritating Heat brass, which accused General Manager Jerry West of having misrepresented his interest in their player.
Then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he was considering coming back.
Then Magic Johnson said he hadn’t ruled out a return, either.
This week, West might hear from Elgin Baylor and George Mikan. Meanwhile, he tries to figure out where his franchise is right now.
West on Johnson:
“We’d be delighted to have him, but that isn’t the real issue. The issue is his health, and that’s a determination he has to make.
“I wish he’d just make up his mind what he wants to do. It puts us in a very awkward position.
“The only thing I can do, if and when he comes to me and says he wants to play, there are a lot of things that have to be done.”
“That’s something that will have to be addressed by our ownership. I think it would depend on whether (Abdul-Jabbar) feels he’d be competitive, and I don’t think he knows that now.
“I think it’s an incredible gesture, but sometimes your mind tells you to do something and your body won’t let you do that. I think, with his stature and his ability to play this game, it’s pretty intriguing, I’ll say that.
“But financially, there’s no way we can satisfy him. The only thing we could pay him would be a prorated $130,000 (the minimum salary). He would be free to go elsewhere and do anything else. He’s unrestricted.”
On Douglas: “Things change quickly in this league and, obviously, one of the things that makes you change your mind is the opinion of your coaches. They thought we needed a penetrating-type guard. This all happened over a three-week period.”
On Heat displeasure: “We can’t talk to those people because of the rules on collusion, but in this league, there are a lot of decisions you make (that) you don’t like to make.
“We need a basketball player. Hopefully, we’ll get one. Just as they needed (Cleveland’s) John Williams. (Miami’s $27-million offer a year ago) probably wasn’t very palatable to them. That’s the nature of the business.
“Billy Cunningham and Lew Schaffel (Heat owners) are two very nice people. I’ve got great respect for them. This is business. We didn’t do anything illegal.”
The Douglas affair will sort itself out within 11 days.
The Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar possibilities might take a while longer.
Said West: “I don’t know. It’s too complex for me.”