Spokesman for Sam Schulman, owner of the Seattle SuperSonics: "We are very pleased. . . very pleased."
Mike Burke, president, New York Knicks: "I am shocked to the point of disbelief at the severity of this award."
Forward Lonnie Shelton plus a first-round 1979 draft pick plus $450,000 as compensation for loss of center Marvin Webster. Some price for a "free" agent!
"This award" was NBA Commissioner Larry O'Brien's decree yesterday of what the Knicker-bockers must send Seattle to make the Sonics whole for New York's Aug. 28 signing of the 7-foot-1 "Human Eraser" who helped his team go all the way to a seventh game in the NBA finals against the Bullets.
Webster, 26, averaged 14 points, 13 rebounds and starred defensively last season, third year in the league for the former Morgan Stater. Shelton, 23, averaged 13 points, seven rebounds in his second pro campaign, can play some center at 6-8, and is regarded as a coming star once he learns to avoid personal foul problems.
Leaning on Joe Axelson, Kansas City Kings' general manager, as an "impartial export," O'Brien "determined that Webster at this stage of his career does not rank with the acknowledged super-stars, but is, nonetheless, a center of exceptional ability. . . The importance of a dominant player at that position cannot be over-emphasized. . ."
Hence the steep price, even steeper than it looks, because the No. 1 pick going to Seattle actually will be the New Jersey Nets' spot. Taken by the Knicks as part of territorial indemnification in June, that should assure the Sonics a very early choice from the college crop.
"Free" agent? Ha.