The Clippers and Boston Celtics, who have spent much of the summer working on a trade that would send center Bill Walton to Boston for power forward Cedric Maxwell, are close to finally completing the deal.
For the first time since talks began in June, Carl Scheer, the Clipper general manager, said Thursday that there is a very good chance the trade will be completed soon. How soon, Scheer wasn't saying.
"This trade could happen Friday, but if it does, I won't be here," said Scheer, who is leaving this morning to visit relatives in North Carolina. "But there are things that have to be ironed out, not the least of which is the updated physical condition of both players involved, which can't be done in five minutes.
"I will say that, unless Bill fails the physical or something unforeseen happens, he will probably go pretty soon."
The Celtics were scheduled to fly Walton to Boston today.
The Clippers plan to have doctors who are associated with Dr. Tony Daly, their team physician, examine the 29-year-old Maxwell at his home in Charlotte, N.C., this afternoon.
This will be at least the third time that the Clippers have examined Maxwell, who injured his left knee last February and underwent arthroscopic surgery. On June 18, the day of the National Basketball Assn. draft, the Clippers flew Maxwell to Los Angeles for a physical examination. Daly said the test showed Maxwell's left knee to be 25% weaker than his right knee. About a month later, Daly tested Maxwell again and found the injured knee to be 12% weaker than the healthy one.
The Celtics briefly examined Walton, who has a long history of foot and knee injuries, during the NBA meetings at San Francisco in late June. The physical did not include X-rays of Walton's oft-injured left foot or examination of heel spurs that Walton has previously experienced. Daly, a close friend of Walton, said the 32-year-old center is fit.
"They (the Celtics) don't seem worried about Walton's health because they think they have a gauge on how fit Bill is," Scheer said. "I think I'm more concerned about Maxwell's knee than they are of Bill. But if this works out, I feel confident for a deal."
The teams have been close to a trade several times in the last two months. The terms, then as now, call for the Clippers to get a Celtic first-round pick in the 1986 draft for Walton, and for the Celtics to pay a significant part of Maxwell's $805,000-a-year salary. All of Maxwell's salary, however, would count against the Clippers' salary cap, and the clubs are trying to structure the deal so that the Celtics would count some of that salary against their cap.
"It's a difficult process, one we haven't solved yet," Scheer said.
Walton's contract with the Clippers includes a variety of incentive clauses to go along with a $200,000 base salary.
When the on-again, off-again trade talks stalled again more than two weeks ago, Scheer said he had not heard from the Celtics. Scheer, however, was in contact with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were interested in obtaining Walton as a power forward.
Tuesday night, Scheer said Walton told him that he did not want to play for the Clippers and did not want to be traded to Cleveland, either. Walton reportedly told Scheer that he wanted to be traded to a contending team, preferably the Celtics.
Wednesday, Celtic General Manager Jan Volk called Scheer to renew talks and then called Walton. Volk could not be reached Thursday.
"I think Walton was dealing with Boston on his own all along," Scheer said. "I did not talk to Volk until yesterday. Maybe it was the fact that Cleveland was interested. Maybe it was because (the Celtics) wanted Maurice Lucas and didn't get him. Maybe it's a combination of things. But the talks have started again."
Scheer also said the Clippers are thinking about giving former Laker Jamaal Wilkes a physical examination, and may do so next week.