Was that all there is?

After a week of speculation that the Los Angeles Lakers were about to acquire every National Basketball Association big man who was available - and several who were not - the team Monday signed unrestricted free-agent Sam Perkins to a deal estimated to be worth $18 million for six years, a deal an Los Angeles Times editorial called "one of the top three or four contracts" in basketball.So the speculation ends?


While Perkins was speaking at a Forum press conference, a Laker source said a deal sending A.C. Green and Byron Scott to the Cleveland Cavaliers for 6-foot-11 Hot Rod Williams and guard Craig Ehlo is on hold, but still on the table and even "likely."

However, Cleveland officials vehemently denied any talks.

"First of all, you can't trade a free agent," Cavalier General Manager Wayne Embry told an Ohio writer. "That's the rule. Why don't people understand that?

"Secondly, we're not looking to move Ehlo. We really can't afford to trade him. That's all I'm going to say about this."

Nothing is thought to be imminent. Laker General Manager Jerry West is on vacation for two weeks, and his assistant, Mitch Kupchak, represented the team Monday. Key Laker aides have been told that there is nothing about to happen, and are planning to start their own vacations this week.

The Lakers may be hoping that Williams, a restricted free agent, holds out - he has already lost his suit for unrestricted status - and pressures the Cavaliers into a deal they do not seem to want.

Until then, the Lakers have a lot of depth at power forward, now shared by Green and Perkins.

Perkins, the star of this season's unrestricted free-agent class, got a contract, described by a source as "comparable" to the deal that the Dallas Mavericks offered publicly.

Perkins said the Lakers offered a little more than the Mavericks. His lawyer, Lee Fentress, said it was one of "the top three or four contracts" in basketball.

On behalf of the Lakers, Kupchak called it "a very significant and happy day," but was not sure Perkins would start.

On behalf of himself, the soft-spoken Perkins noted that he had received two other offers even higher than the Mavericks' and Lakers'. He made his decision on other factors - the Lakers' tradition and upbeat style, the chance to play with Magic Johnson and Perkins' North Carolina roommate, James Worthy.

"I'm not one for attention," Perkins said. "Before I start saying things that don't make sense up here, I'd like to say I'm very excited."

Perkins now earns more than any Laker but Johnson. Is he worth it?

"Is anybody worth this kind of money?" Perkins asked, grinning.

Perkins is similarly unassuming on the floor. A Dallas writer calls him "a totally complementary player." However, if he isn't overpowering at any one thing, Perkins' game has no holes. He is 6-9, and his 41-inch sleeve size makes him a shot blocker. He has bulked up into the 240-pound range. He is a decent perimeter shooter, has a nice post-up game and has played all three positions on the front line.

He has been a favorite of his coaches, from Dean Smith to Bobby Knight in the Olympics to Dick Motta, John MacLeod and Richie Adubato in Dallas, for doing the little things, playing hurt, practicing hard and not complaining.

He has averaged 14 points and eight rebounds a game. Last season, with Roy Tarpley gone much of the time and Adubato featuring him, Perkins improved his shooting percentage to 49.3 percent, his best mark since 1985-86.

As things stand, the Lakers have traded Orlando Woolridge, are about to accept Michael Cooper's "retirement," have taken the $1.5 million to $2 million they have saved, thrown some more in from the newly raised salary cap and given it to Perkins.

They have upgraded the forward rotation, Perkins replacing Woolridge.

Time will tell if the vacationing West has more plans.