The New Orleans Jazz' signing of Truck Robinson, a stalwart of the Pappy Parker team in the D.C. Urban Coalition summer league at Spingarn, is fraught with implications for the National Basketball Aassociation - and speculation about whither Pete Maravich.
Robinson, who played out his option with Atlanta after the Bullets unloaded him to the Hawks in the midseason swap for Tom Henderson, is the first NBA free agent to switch teams this summer. Ergo, something of a test case.
Not only did coach Elgin Baylor's (Spingarn, again) Jaazz need a power forward of Robinson's 6-foot-7, 225-pound ilk, but New Orleans has not signed its own free agent, premier guard MaravichM the NBA scoring king. And, says the New York Post, signing Robinson "was imperative if the Jazz hoped to secure Maravich. It's understood Pistol Pete wanted Truck, more than anyone else available, playing alongside him." No wonder the Jazz jingled a reported five-year $1.6 million tune for Leonard to top substantial offers from the Hawks and New York Nets.
But wait. Not only do the Jazz have to worry about Maravich's longing looks toward Los Angeles, where he envisions teaming up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to make the championship-ring set at long last, but listen to Atlanta general manager Mike Storen:
"The caveat uneer which everyone is operating is that the team is to be made whole for the loss of the player. If the team is to be made whole, that means we need a starting forward who is 24 years of age who can average 24 points and 12 rebounds a game. If you look at the New Orleans roster (who no forwards like that), the only player that an impartial third person could say could make up for that would nbe Maravich."
The NBA rules, of course, do require a team losing a free agent to be compensated by his new agent to be compensated by his new employer - remember all the talk about the Bullets having to give up a Wes Unseld to sign Milwaukee's Bob Dandredge. If the Hawks and Jazz can't agree, Storen goes to commissioner Larry O'Brien to dictate compensation. And, says Storen, who used to be a commissioner himself (American Basketball Association), "It will depend on whether the NBA has a strong commissioneer."
Hawk coach Hubie Brown echoed Storen that rulings on compensation in free-agent cases will decide whether the rich clubs dominate the league.
Yeah, but don't forget who owns the Hawks. Ted Turner. Former Hawks Maravich back in Atlanta? Not likely. And yet...