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C's In No Hurry To Re-Sign Battie/Fortson
Pitino says Fortson's a legitimate 6-8....
C's in no rush on Fortson, Battie
by Steve Bulpett
Sunday, October 10, 1999
All is quiet on the Celtic contract front. The club is kicking around
extensions for Danny Fortson and Tony Battie, but it wouldn't be
surprising at all if nothing gets done before next summer.
The two are entering the final years on the old rookie wage scale and have
until Oct. 31 to sign extensions.
``I'm sure we'll talk,'' said Rick Pitino, who's leaving the negotiations
to general manager Chris Wallace. ``It's Arn Tellem (who's the agent for
Fortson). He's best buddies with Chris, so I'm sure they talk all the
``But there's no rush right now, because we intend on signing both players
and we're in the driver's seat. We know that. There's no urgency on their
behalf and no urgency on ours.''
Asked if he thinks finances will be an issue here, Pitino said no.
``We're talking about legitimate contracts,'' he said. ``We have things
budgeted in. Both players and both agents know we want them in this
organization, so it'll all work out.''
Wallace isn't under any pressure to get things done before the regular
``It's an exploratory situation right now,'' he said. ``We're putting some
things together to see if they fit and see if anything can be done before
``But I don't see it as a killer if things don't get done now. I wouldn't
read anything into it as far as a lack of interest on our part. We want to
keep both these players.''
Pitino is getting an eyeful of Fortson, who is back practicing after
twisting an ankle Thursday night.
``I'm shocked at the size of Danny Fortson,'' Pitino said. ``I coached
just down the road from him when he was at Cincinnati, and I always
thought of Danny as 6-6. But he's a legitimate 6-8, and he's a mountain of
``He and Vitaly (Potapenko) go after it every day and they never say a
word. They're both strong, mean guys. It's like watching Bill Laimbeer and
``Danny also has a surprising touch, which I didn't realize,'' Pitino
said. ``He's got a very nice jump shot and he's got soft hands. And he's a
While he liked his roster, Pitino isn't about to say the Celts are through
``Oh, I'm never going to make that statement again,'' he said, smiling in
recollection of the abuse he's taken for past proclamations. ``What I say
at the time is 100 percent truth. It's what I believe at the time.
``It's almost like you get this new computer and you've got the hottest
thing out with all the modern parts. Then two months go by and you've got
to upgrade it. And we're going to continue to upgrade until the
championship arrives. We're always trying to upgrade, but I will say I'm
happy with this basketball team.''
Antoine Walker is pleased with the new faces and Pitino's push to keep a
``It's hard to say, because it's on paper. But I like the moves,'' Walker
said. ``I know these guys as players and I know they can help us.
``And I'm glad (Pitino) has that confidence in us. He has that confidence
in his coaching ability and in his players. And when you look at the
Eastern Conference, we match up with teams a lot better.''
The Celts will hold an open practice at the Civic Center in Portland,
Maine, Oct. 17. Tickets are free, but fans must get them from one of the
three Shaw's supermarket locations in Portland.