The first pick in the draft was traded to Cleveland for Roy Hinson and future considerations.
"Would you do me a favor?" asked one of the fans, who stood near the
entrance of Ovations, the club at the Spectrum where the Sixers' version of the draft was under way. "Give Harold Katz my phone number. I want to talk to him. That trade was the most stupid thing I've ever heard of. How can you trade an all-star for Jeff Ruland?"
That was a mere sample of the backlash that rippled through Philadelphia as news spread of yesterday's blockbuster deals, which the Sixers attributed to their desire to create a more effective running game.
The Sixers finished their business about an hour before Monday's midnight deadline, in separate, back-to-back transactions with Washington and Cleveland.
Philadelphia first dealt Malone, Catledge, the 21st pick of this year's
draft and a first-round choice in 1988 to the Bullets for Ruland and Robinson.
The Sixers owned both their own 1988 pick and the Bullets' as part of the Tom Sewell trade in 1984. Now, as part of yesterday's deal, the Sixers will take the higher of the two picks at the end of the 1987-88 season.
Less than a minute after the Washington deal was completed, the Sixers were returning a call to Cleveland, trading the first pick of yesterday's draft - which the Cavaliers used to select North Carolina's Brad Daugherty - for Hinson and unspecified future considerations.
The Sixers did not pick until the second round, when they took David Wingate, a 6-foot-5 guard out of Georgetown, with the 44th overall selection in the draft.
"In the 12 years that I've been here, the whole lottery and No. 1 has created more interest than anything that has happened," Sixers general manager Pat Williams said in response to the predictable fan reaction. "It (the trades) took a lot of air out of people who weren't expecting this."
The forfeiture of the first-round draft choices and a chance at a blossoming talent such as Daugherty was bound to create controversy, but the trading of Malone, who was voted the league's Most Valuable Player in the Sixers' 1982-83 championship season, seemed to cause more of a fuss.
The Sixers made it clear that yesterday's deals were made on the merit of the package and not as the result of a direct comparison between Malone and Ruland.
"Yesterday morning, when I went into work, the forward rotation seemed to be Brad Daugherty, Charles Barkley and Terry Catledge," Sixers coach Matt Guokas said. "Today, it's Roy Hinson, Cliff Robinson and Charles Barkley. You don't have to be a scientist to realize that's a better group."
With Ruland, who stands 6-foot-11 and weighs about 270 pounds, the Sixers didn't get the 7-footer they have acknowledged the team needs, but they got a passing center who also can score and rebound.
Robinson, who is 6-9, and Hinson, who is just a fraction of an inch under 6-10, are good open-court players with rebounding and scoring ability.
Throw them and Ruland's outlet passing in the stew with Barkley, an explosive transition player, and Maurice Cheeks and you have a tremendous running game with players whom opponents can't afford to double-team.
At least, that's what the Sixers are hoping.
"I have mixed emotions," Sixers owner Harold Katz said. "I'm very happy with the trade, but I'm not very happy about losing Moses.
"I spoke with Moses this morning. He seemed quite upbeat. His attorney indicated that he accepted the deal and understood it."
Malone, however, didn't seem too pleased about the whole matter yesterday afternoon, when he was reached at his home in Sugarland, Texas.
WANTED KATZ TO CALL
"I thought Harold Katz should have been man enough to call me the night before the trade instead of having (assistant general manager) John Nash call me," Malone said. "I brought them a championship. He should have had enough respect to call me and ask if I wanted to be traded. When Charles Barkley gets to be about my age . . . not my age, but after he's played about five years, I think they might do the same thing to him."
A major question in this whole deal is Ruland's health.
Ruland, 27, played in only 67 regular-season games in the last two seasons, after leading the league in minutes played during the 1983-84 season.
The center suffered a strained right shoulder during the 1984-85 season and missed all but 37 games.
Last season, Ruland suffered a fracture to his right foot and later tore cartilage in his left knee and played in only 30 games.
After recovering from arthroscopic surgery, which was performed on his knee on March 31, Ruland returned to action against the Sixers in late April in the first round of the playoffs.
"We had many questions about Ruland's health," Katz said. "We're convinced the injuries were minor. When healthy, he had Moses Malone-type numbers."
During the 1983-84 season, Ruland averaged 22.2 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.
Both Robinson, 26, and Hinson, 25, averaged around 19 points per game last season and are capable of having explosive games.
Will they, along with Barkley, be able to co-exist in an offense with only one basketball?
"Charles is a bona fide starter," Guokas said, explaining that either Robinson or Hinson would come off the bench, "so it's something that will have to work itself out in training camp."
Wingate has a chance to make the Sixers team if he performs well in camp,
because of the team's need for a big guard.
In fact, the Sixers were surprised to get Wingate so deep into the second round.
"At one point before the pre-draft camp in Chicago, Wingate was projected to go at 21," Guokas said. "He has size, comes from a good program, has a slashing kind of game and is a good defender."
The Sixers picked Keith Colbert, a 6-6 forward from Virginia Tech, and Ron Rowan, a 6-6 guard from St. John's, in the third round. They chose another guard, Wes Stallings, a 6-footer from East Tennessee State, in the fourth round.
Kevin Holmes, a 6-8 forward from DePaul, was picked by the Sixers in the fifth round; Andre McCloud, a 6-6 forward from Seton Hall, was their sixth- round choice, and Dan Palombizio, a 6-8 forward from Ball State, was their seventh-round pick.
VETERANS P HT EXP.
Clemon Johnson C 6-10 8
Jeff Ruland C 6-11 6
Charles Barkley F 6-6 2
Julius Erving F 6-6 15
Kenny Green F 6-7 1
Roy Hinson F 6-9 4
Bob McAdoo F 6-9 15
Cliff Robinson F 6-9 8
Greg Stokes F 6-10 1
Maurice Cheeks G 6-1 8
Perry Moss G 6-2 1
Sedale Threatt G 6-2 3
Andrew Toney G 6-3 6
Michael Young G 6-7 3
ROOKIES P HT EXP.
Keith Colbert F 6-6 R
Kevin Holmes F 6-8 R
Andre McCloud F 6-6 R
Dan Palombizio F 6-8 R
David Wingate F 6-5 R
Ron Rowan G 6-6 R
Wes Stallings G 6-0 R
MOSES MALONE'S CAREER STATISTICS
YEAR/TEAM G MIN FGA FGM FTA FTM OR DR TR A BS AVG.
76-77 Buf.-Hou. 82 2506 810 389 440 305 437 635 1072 89 181 13.2
77-78 Houston 59 2107 828 413 443 318 380 506 886 31 76 19.4
78-79 Houston 82 3390 1325 716 811 599 587 857 1444 147 119 24.8
79-80 Houston 82 3140 1549 778 783 563 573 617 1190 147 107 25.8
80-81 Houston 82 3245 1545 806 804 609 474 706 1180 141 150 27.8
81-82 Houston 81 3398 1822 945 827 630 558 630 1188 142 125 31.1
82-83 Sixers 78 2922 1305 654 788 600 445 769 1194 101 157 24.5
83-84 Sixers 71 2613 1101 532 727 545 352 598 950 96 71 22.7
84-85 Sixers 79 2957 1284 602 904 737 385 646 1031 130 123 24.8
85-86 Sixers 74 2706 1246 571 784 617 339 533 872 90 71 23.8
Totals 768 28984 12815 6406 7311 5523 4530 6477 11007 1114 1219 23.9
Three-point goals: 1979-80: 0-6; 1980-81, 1-3; 1981-82, 0-6; 1982-83, 0-1; 1983-84, 0-4; 1984-85, 0-2; 1985-86, 0-1. Totals, 1-23.