Rickey Green was not out of the NBA long before the phone started ringing. Houston, Portland and others were interested in the former Jazz guard, who signed Wednesday with Milwaukee for the rest of the season.
Not bad for being cut by an expansion team."This is going from no playoffs to maybe going all the way," Green told the Milwaukee Journal after arriving from Charlotte.
Green also made a good impression with his new team by the way he played Thursday, when guard Jay Humphries was out with a hamstring injury. Against New York's pressing defense, he played 17 solid minutes in a 121-111 win, causing Coach Del Harris to say, "He was phenomenal."
Green, still the all-time Jazz leader in games played, will have to be good to stay in Milwaukee, even with a regular contract. The Bucks have 12 active players and three on the injured list - Fred Roberts, Jeff Grayer and Mark Davis.
But Harris was looking for another point guard to take pressure off Paul Pressey, and Green likes his new surroundings. Amid speculation about him in Charlotte, Green says he had told his wife, "It would be a great move if they did let me go."
Added Green, "I've played 11 years - I know how to play; I know my limitations. I can do the little things and blend in."
One twist: Milwaukee waived Green's Jazz replacement, Jim Les, in October.
***** DEADLINE BLUES: The trouble with the Jazz is the players like each other too much.
That's our theory on the Jazz's fairly uninspired play since the NBA trading deadline.
The Jazz, especially Karl Malone, worked extra hard in easily winning five straight games before the deadline, trying to convince management not to trade anybody - the Mailman, remember, asked the front office not to trade Jose Ortiz. When the deadline came and went, they lost by 19 to Denver and by 39 to Indiana.
Malone contests the theory, saying, "I don't think we've let down at all."
Just imagine, though: What if this trip had come right after the All-Star break, instead of five home games? The Jazz would have been 30-23, not 33-20. Management might have looked closer at a trade, which could be meaningful at playoff time.
Then again, Dallas was the only Western Conference playoff team to do any dealing.
***** FADING ATTRACTION: Trading Roberts for a third-round draft choice and two exhibition games was a great idea for the Jazz when Boston brought ex-BYU players Roberts, Greg Kite and Danny Ainge to Provo in 1987, drawing 22,792 in the Marriott Center.
Game 2 is scheduled for October - but Roberts, Kite and Ainge are now all missing from the Celtics. What will their absence mean at the gate? Consider that the two-time World Champion Lakers attracted only 17,756 in Provo last fall.
***** COACHING WOES: Tales of two coaches - San Antonio's Larry Brown, who has clinched his first career losing season and is now wondering out loud about being fired; and Sacramento's Jerry Reynolds, who formerly worked with the Jazz's Phil Johnson:
Brown: "Our guys are concerned with these (statistics) sheets. I'm concerned with things they have to do to make us a better team, to help their teammates. And we haven't understood that from day one. They don't understand the difference between coaching and criticism."
Reynolds: "I just got to the point where I couldn't find anything positive . . . The whole thing is very distasteful. I never had a goal to coach in the NBA. I don't foresee myself coaching here that long, because I really don't like it."
***** LAST CHANCE: As Walter Berry tries to save his career in Houston, former San Antonio Coach Bob Weiss is watching with interest. So, of course, is Houston's Don Chaney.
"At one point in the season," Weiss told Newsday, "Walter came to me and said, `Coach, from now on you're not going to get less than 100 percent from me.' That was great. But as he was walking away, all I could think of was that Walter had just told me he had been dogging it all this time."
Said Chaney, "If, after a month, he gets back into the old Walter Berry syndrome, then he's out of here. He knows that . . . I told him that, most likely, there are no more stops. I think he understood that this might be it for him in professional basketball. I think sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you understand that."
***** AT RANDOM: Indiana made the Jazz look better by going on to win at Seattle and Golden State before losing to the Lakers . . . After defeating New Jersey, the Jazz are 1-19 on parquet floors - winless on Boston Garden's and undefeated on Meadowlands Arena's . . . Malone is already announcing his plans to play for the U.S. Olympic team, if pros become eligible in an April vote. "What really got me going was watching the Russians beat us on television and high-fiving each other like they had beaten America's best," he said . . .
"The Jazz ceased being an authentic title team the moment they lost by 39 points to the Pacers," Peter Vecsey writes in the New York Post . . . No farewell tour is in the works for Moses Malone, who started his pro career in Salt Lake City. "When I retire, I'm just going to call everybody from a beach in Jamaica," he said. "That's how you'll know I'm gone."