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Having Bought Into Draft, the Cavaliers Are Looking for Players That Can Help

May 11, 1986|United Press International

RICHFIELD, Ohio — The Cleveland Cavaliers still are looking for a general manager and have yet to make a decision on their head coaching vacancy.

But despite the uncertainty in their front office, the Cavaliers are hopeful of success in today's NBA lottery.

Wait. Didn't Cleveland trade its first-round pick this year to Dallas back in 1980?

Indeed, but when Gordon and George Gund bought the financially strapped franchise from Ted Stepien in 1983, they negotiated the right to purchase four first-round choices to replace those Stepien traded away--all to Dallas.

Here's how those picks disappeared:

The 1986 selection went to Dallas along with the 1983 first-rounder and the late Bill Robinzine for Richard Washington and Jerome Whitehead on Oct. 30, 1980.

On Feb. 7, 1981, Cleveland then traded its 1985 first-round pick to Dallas as part of a trade for Geoff Huston. Later that year, on Sept. 16, the Mavericks got the 1984 selection for Mike Bratz.

"Trading away top picks means not being able to build with youth," said Gordon Gund. "We felt it was necessary to get the '83, '84, '85 and '86 draft picks back."

Getting the NBA to acquiesce didn't come cheaply--the Gunds paid $500,000 for the privilege. To date, however, those picks have not been especially fruitful.

The Cavaliers had the 24th pick overall in 1983 and selected guard Stewart Granger of Villanova, who averaged 4.5 points in 56 games and was traded in the off-season.

In 1984, Cleveland selected center Tim McCormick of Michigan and traded him to Washington as part of a package for Mel Turpin, the Bullets' first-rounder. Turpin has not proved to be the dominating center the Cavaliers had hoped for.

In the 1984-85 season, Cleveland made the playoffs for the first time in seven years and grabbed the ninth overall pick after winning a coin flip. The Cavaliers tabbed forward Charles Oakley, but traded him in a deal that acquired forward Keith Lee from Chicago. Lee averaged 7.4 points in 58 games last year.

The NBA devised a stipulation for 1986--Cleveland would automatically draft immediately behind the Mavericks but no higher than third or worse than eighth.

"So, we're rooting for Dallas to get either the No. 1 or No. 2 pick," says Gordon Gund, who is heading a committee interviewing general manager candidates. "We hope to have a GM in place by the draft on June 17."

Gund fired General Manager Harry Weltman after the latter had dismissed head coach George Karl on March 16. Gene Littles remains as the acting head coach, but is not assured of permanent employment.

Meanwhile, Littles and scouting director Barry Hecker are evaluating the draft.

"There's a lot of talent this year," says Hecker. "We should be able to address our needs, and not just in the first round. There are some sleepers available as well."

Cleveland seeks a shooting guard, an offensive-minded small forward and a center to perhaps stimulate Turpin's efforts.

Should Cleveland wind up with the third or fourth pick, they are looking at St. John's forward Walter Berry. However, even the eighth pick should land the likes of Syracuse guard Dwayne (Pearl) Washington, who would be groomed as a replacement for veteran World B. Free.

"The odds are in our favor," said Hecker. "Dallas has a better chance of getting the first or second pick than any other one spot. Maybe we'll be lucky."

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