Phil Chenier, one of the biggest stars the Washington Bullets have ever had before a back injury tarnished many of his skills, was traded to the Indiana Pacers yesterday for "future considerations."
Exact terms of the transaction weren't disclosed, but the Bullets will reportedly pay some of Chenier's more than $350,000 a year salary. What Indiana will give the Bullets in return in reportedly dependent on Chenier's performance as a Pacer.
Chenier, 29, a nine-year National Basketball Association veteran who has played his entire career with the Bullets, never regained the form that made him a three-time all-star after undergoining surgery for a herniated disk in September 1978.
He became expendable as the Bullets landed Jim Cleamons from New York Knicks Tuesday and Grevey, on the injured list since Nov. 3, was ready to be activated.
Grevey was activated yesterday afternoon.
Chenier called the deal "a second begining." He said he will leave for Indiana today and plans to play for the Pacers against the Detroit Pistons Saturday. The Bullets will play the Pacers in Indiana Dec. 14.
"I'm approaching this whole thing as if I was a rookie," Chenier said. "I'm anxious to play. I feel good and I have no aches and pains associated with by back.
"This doesn't come as a complete surprise to me," Chenier added. "I could see the writing on the wall. I could tell I probably didn't fit into their plans here anymore. I just hope I can help the Pacers."
Chenier said getting traded away from the Bullets has "been on my mind. I never wanted to go because I've always liked it here.
"But it's just the way things go. Now it's a reality that I'm gone and I don't know how I'll adjust. I'll do the best I can."
Chenier started 14 games this season after Grevey tore a hamstring muscle.
Chenier was averaging 10.1 points and shooting 39 percent this season. Going into this season, he had an 18.2 career average and was a 45 percent career shooter.
Chenier averaged 21.9 points in the 1973-74 season and 21.8 in the 1974-75 season when the Bullets got to the NBA final before losing to the Golden State Warriors in four straight.
He was injured early in the 1977-78 season and didn't play on the Bullets' NBA championship team.
"It's hard to come back to a team that won a world championship without you," said Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry, the man who worked out the deal with Indiana.
"This is a fresh start for Phil and that's what he needs," Ferry said."It has to have affected him that he wasn't a part of that championship and that we could win it without him. He wanted to do well so badly that it just put more pressure on him."
"Pressure is pressure," Chenier said. "I wanted to do well to dispell the beliefs that I couldn't come back.
"I just wanted to do well and get back to the Phil Chenier of old. I had a couple of games at that level, but I wasn't able to sustain it."
Chenier has a high game of 22 this season in a 111-107 victory over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden Nov. 13 and he had 19 points in a 104-103 Bullet victory over the Detriot Pistons at the Silverdome Oct. 24.
If there was a consistency about Chenier this season, it was that he played better on the road. In 10 games at Capital Centre he averaged 8.1 points and shot 35 percent. In 10 away games, he averaged 11.1 points and shot 46 percent.
"I know Phil will succeed in Indiana," Ferry said. "I'm so happy for him. He'll probably become the old Chenier again. I'm rooting for him as hard as I can. The pressure of winning here and trying to please the people who followed him before his injury was so great.
"He seemed happy when I told him about the trade," Ferry said. "He knows the burden he was under here. Getting that fresh start will make a world of difference in him. I'm sure of it.
"I gave (Indiana Coach) Bob Leonard my word that I thought it was a good deal for him," Ferry added, "and I mean it. If I didn't think Phil could play I never would have made the deal."
To make room for Chenier on their roster, the Pacers released Ron Carter.
The disposition of Chenier, the activation of Grevey, the trading for Cleamons and the release of Gus Bailey, tied up a lot of loose ends for the Bullets.
"This has been a very trying two weeks," said Ferry, "but I can't imagine how it could have worked out any better."
"We're down to 11 players now and we don't have anyone on the injured list. If nothing out of the ordinary happens, it's up to this team to win as it is."