View Full Version : Gary Payton shocked by Celtics trade

08-08-2004, 03:00 AM
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Celtics pick up Payton: Three players included in trade with Lakers for guard

By Mark Murphy
Saturday, August 7, 2004

In an apparent swap of their one-time future for salary cap relief, the Celtics yesterday traded 2003 first-round pick Marcus Banks [news], Chucky Atkins and Chris Mihm to the Lakers for veterans Gary Payton and Rick Fox.

The Celtics also received a conditional first-round pick and cash, and gave up a future second-rounder.

Fox, who has strongly hinted at retirement in the wake of a season truncated by injury, is not expected to return to his old team for the final year of his contract. Payton, who reportedly asked the Lakers to buy out the last year of his contract after the team traded Shaquille O'Neal to Miami, will need convincing to come to Boston.

In typical salary dump style, the Celtics could conceivably end up with the 36-year-old Payton's $5.4 million salary, but not the player himself, and emerge with $10 million in savings (Payton and Fox combined) next summer.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who made a sales call to Payton's Los Angeles home yesterday, allowed that the deal could also be nullified by unforseen medical complications.

``(Payton) is very shocked by this trade,'' Ainge said. ``He's in the process of buying a house in LA, and his daughter is just about to begin high school.

``If he was 30, this could be very exciting for him - a great opportunity - to come here. But yeah, he may not want this to happen. He has a lot to think about.''

On the other hand, the Celtics could end up with a Hall of Fame point guard for a season in a drastically weakened division.

``I think of Gary Payton as one of the premier point guards in basketball, and someone who could help us win our division,'' Ainge said. ``He could help us be competitive in the Eastern Conference.''

Though Payton's role fell through the cracks over the second half of last season, Ainge believes he was merely a victim of a Lakers system that ultimately imploded during the NBA Finals.

``He got lost at the end of the season on that team,'' Ainge said. ``But if you go back through the first half of the season, I thought he was the MVP of that team when they had all sorts of problems going on.''

Ainge added of Fox, who has been plagued by nerve problems in his neck and back: ``He is planning on retiring. Rick Fox doesn't believe that he's physically capable of playing in the NBA this season.''

The trade also brings a curious end to the Celtics' Marcus Banks era - only a year ago touted as a high-energy rookie who was going to spearhead Ainge's plan for a fast-break offense.

After an uneven rookie season in which Banks struggled for minutes first under coach Jim O'Brien [news] and then interim coach John Carroll, the point guard suffered through a tough summer league season.

Doc Rivers, Banks' third head coach in just over a year, was sharply critical of the second-year player's performance during the Orlando summer league last month.

Banks ends his one season in Boston averaging 5.9 points and 2.2 assists in 17 minutes per game.

Mihm, who had been a restricted free agent, was signed to a $4 million contract yesterday and then included in the trade. He came to Boston last season with Ricky Davis and Michael Stewart in a six-player trade that sent Eric Williams, Tony Battie and Kedrick Brown [news] to the Cavaliers.cw0

In 17 minutes per game, Mihm averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Atkins, who had some success settling the team down over the last two months of the season following his trade from Detroit, was considered an expensive commodity in light of the $8.7 million the team would have owed him over the next two years.

Should Payton decide not to report for duty, the point guard burden will fall on rookie Delonte West. Though a shooting guard at St. Joseph's, West impressed the coaching staff enough this summer with his heady play to emerge as a solid candidate to back up Banks.

Banks, in turn, joins a team where the only other competition at the point guard spot is likely to be Atkins.

``It's the same position he was in when he was with the Celtics,'' said Banks' agent, Michael Higgins. ``Chucky is with him now, and he was with him last year.

``This could be a good thing for him. Rudy (Tomjanovich, the Lakers coach) is a big pick-and-roll guy, and if Marcus can learn to play the pick-and-roll he'll be all right. (General manager) Mitch Kupchak has always liked Marcus. He tried to move up and get him in the draft (in 2003). He asked for Marcus in this deal. Mitch wasn't making this deal to get Chucky Atkins.''

08-09-2004, 10:42 AM
How the mighty have fallen. Payton here? He could be good for a few minutes. What you think?

08-09-2004, 10:44 AM
I love that Payton has no chance of doing anything in Boston.

08-09-2004, 10:56 AM
watch him retire.

08-09-2004, 01:24 PM
Payton made a big mistake by not opting out of his contract.

08-09-2004, 03:28 PM
Originally posted by: LRB
Payton made a big mistake by not opting out of his contract.

I dont understand why he didnt. He could make the same money if he was a free agent... but he would choose where he wanted to go/

08-09-2004, 09:48 PM
Originally posted by: LRB
Payton made a big mistake by not opting out of his contract.

Kinda the flip-side of the Carlos Boozer thing, huh.

08-09-2004, 10:50 PM
I'm not sure why Payton didnt opt out either. If it's not about the money to him then I dont see why he couldnt have found a better situation for himself elsewhere; thats is unless he felt his best chance of winning a ring was to stick with kobe.