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Union questions Pitino’s workouts

August 13, 1997

BOSTON (AP) _ The NBA players union doesn’t believe it’s fair for coaches to require offseason workouts before training camps begin in October.

And the NBA Players Association says new Boston coach Rick Pitino might have taken his efforts to return the Celtics to respectability too far.

The union has complained to the NBA that the Celtics might be holding offseason workouts. If true, the union could file a grievance.

``There may be other teams that are doing similar practices, but it seems like the Celtics are the most prevalent,″ union lawyer Ron Klempner said Tuesday. ``It seems like the issues are arising with them more than any other team.″

Klempner was responding to reports that Pitino, who took over the worst team in the NBA, has held three camps or workout sessions this summer, with two more scheduled this month.

The union is concerned the workouts are cutting into players’ vacation time, and players are being paid, or docked pay, based on whether they participate.

``The issue is can they do it at all? Can they even ask them (to participate)?″ Klempner said, adding offseason workouts are not mentioned in the collective bargaining agreement.

The NBA told all 29 teams in May that they could not hold organized practices or scrimmages in the summer. The league said Tuesday it is aware of what the Celtics are doing.

``We’re keeping an eye on the situation and we will, of course, enforce our rules,″ NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said.

When asked whether the league’s May edict also applied to pickup games or informal workouts, McIntyre said, ``There’s a loose line here, I suppose.″

But he did say that coaches are not supposed to be coaching at any of those informal workouts.

Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said he didn’t know the summer sessions were being held. He also said no complaints had been filed with the team.

``The league has not called me in any shape, way or form,″ Twiss said.

Pitino and general manager Chris Wallace were on vacation and unavailable for comment.

Pitino left the University of Kentucky in May to become coach and president of the Celtics. Last season, under coach M.L. Carr, the team finished a league-worst 15-67.

Since taking over, Pitino has replaced all but six players.

The team held its rookie-free agent camp July 6-9, and some veterans showed. Two weeks ago, the Celtics had most players attend workouts at Brandeis University.

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