Banks Back in Boston


Entering his second NBA season at age 22, Marcus Banks is blessed and cursed with youth. He still enjoys a certain carefree approach to life and possesses a short attention span and even shorter memory, qualities that recently served him well. Banks said any frustration resulting from the Celtics' amended trade with the Lakers did not linger past the weekend.

But Banks did feel the sting of inexperience as he found himself unexpectedly dealt to the Lakers, then caught equally off-guard after director of basketball operations Danny Ainge amended the deal last Friday and brought him back to Boston.

   "I'm glad to be back in Boston," said Banks yesterday. "I never wanted to go anywhere in the first place. I was a little frustrated, because I was wondering, 'What was the point of the deal?' But Danny explained it to me. Basically, to make the team better, he had to make moves.

"I think they could have talked to me more and let me know more. At first, I didn't know and didn't understand what was going on. It would have been better if they had broken it down and told me what was going on. I was in bed sleeping when my little brother came in and said it flashed across the screen that I had been traded. I just wanted to be informed. I just wish somebody told me something."

The lines of communication between Banks and Ainge reopened over the weekend and the young point guard claims that the relationship once again is "really cool." And that, of course, is a good thing. Banks even went so far as to say, "I love Danny a lot."

That may be going a little too far, but no one associated with the Celtics last season will dispute that Banks and Ainge had a particularly close relationship. Ainge played the role of mentor, confidant, and big brother to Banks.

Given how much attention Ainge showered on Banks - his prize acquisition in the 2003 draft - it would be understandable if the point guard felt a bit betrayed by the initial deal. Banks believed he would compete with Chucky Atkins for the starting point guard spot. He thought Ainge had big plans for him. Banks hopes that remains the case.

"Danny gave me a chance to be in this league," he said. "I'm going to give him all I have, like nothing ever happened. I'm going into my second season and I know I still have things I need to learn. My role will be the same. I'm going to come into training camp and try to get the starting job. If not, I'll play behind whoever. I'd rather win than think about myself."

But since this year's draft, there were subtle signs that Banks may have been slipping out of favor. With the 24th pick, the Celtics selected Delonte West and immediately announced plans to convert the Saint Joseph's shooting guard into an NBA point guard. With three years of college experience, West clearly has more maturity on the court than Banks, a point brought home during the Orlando summer league. Coach Doc Rivers praised West for his ability to handle pressure better than Banks despite having less speed and less-developed ballhandling skills. Under Rivers, Banks could easily end up competing with West for minutes, never mind the possible addition of obvious starter Gary Payton.

Last season, the consistent minutes given to Banks became a push-button issue between Ainge and his coaches. Banks averaged 5.9 points and 2.2 assists in 17.1 minutes per game. Rivers believes Banks can be one of the best ball-pressure defenders in the league, but the real question remains whether the young guard can harness his speed and run a team effectively. To do that, he must make better decisions with the ball and cut down on turnovers.

When asked if he thought the initial trade indicated that the Celtics had lost faith in his ability, Banks said, "No, not really. If I had to do a trade and could get Gary Payton, a guy who could be a Hall of Famer, and give up a young point guard, I'd make that trade all day long. For Danny and Celtics, that was going to be the best trade."

Ultimately, it may have been his family that took the trade news the hardest. Midway through last season, Banks's immediate family relocated from Las Vegas to Boston; it was a difficult decision, with the rest of the family and friends left behind. While a trade to Los Angeles presented the prospect of another big move, it ultimately would have brought the branches of the family closer together. So, to be almost reunited certainly hurt.

"I was excited about coming a little closer to home because my family would be able to make more games," said Banks, who had already started apartment-hunting in LA.

"When they said I had to go back, I think it was bad just for my family. My family really had its mind set on going to LA and being closer to home. My family was more excited than I was. And I didn't really have too many answers for them about what happened or why."

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