The refusal of Villanova Coach Rollie Massimino to accept the New Jersey Nets' head coaching position and the team's reaction likely will be the main topic when representatives from the 23 NBA teams converge here for annual league meetings.
The meetings, which start Saturday and last until Thursday, ostensibly are an opportunity for workshops and skull sessions for coaches, general managers, and marketing and public relations people. But the true trade plied at the gathering is rumor, with a touch of gossip thrown in.
Hence, the interest in Massimino, the Nets and the set of circumstances that led him to turn down what was thought to be a $2 million offer. The speculation about whom the Atlantic Division team might next approach undoubtedly will overshadow the attention given to Bernie Bickerstaff, the former Washington Bullets assistant who was named coach of the Seattle SuperSonics Thursday.
There also will be a great deal of potential deals bandied about, picking up where the hysteria that preceeded Tuesday's NBA draft left off. Every team will be more than willing to talk, but two of the more active participants most likely will be the Chicago Bulls, overstocked with power forwards and shooting guards but woefully lacking at the point, and the Atlanta Hawks, also looking for back court help and dangling 7-foot-1 center Tree Rollins as the bait.
Besides minor rules changes, the meetings are sure to produce discussion of some sort of tinkering with the NBA lottery. It was a smash success in terms of interest and television but not so great in the eyes of teams like the Golden State Warriors, who had the worst record in the league but got only the seventh choice in the draft.
There also is the possibility of realignment in the league's Western Conference, given the move of the Kings from Kansas City to Sacramento. The most logical step would be to place the team in the Pacific Division and have Phoenix transfer to the Midwest, but the Suns reportedly were opposed to such an action.
Other possible points of discussion are the league's move to a 2-3-2 system of games for the 1985 finals, initial talk about expansion and a pair of lawsuits brought about by the Los Angeles Clippers.
The first lawsuit is ongoing litigation regarding the team's move last season from San Diego. The second lawsuit was filed recently and seeks to negate an offseason trade made with the Milwaukee Bucks.
In that deal, the team acquired forward Marques Johnson, who previously had undergone treatment at a drug abuse clinic. The Clippers contend that had they known of Johnson's possible dependency, they never would have made the deal.