Glove's Deal Restructured


The Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers restructured their week-old deal yesterday afternoon with the terms becoming more favorable for Boston, and Marcus Banks and Jumaine Jones trading places.

The central components of the transaction remain the same with the Celtics receiving Gary Payton, Rick Fox, a 2005 conditional first-round pick, and $2 million. In return, the Lakers now get Jones, Chris Mihm, and Chucky Atkins, with a 2005 second-round pick taken off the table.

   According to NBA sources, the original deal was contingent upon all players reporting to their new teams and passing physicals by 5:30 p.m. yesterday. Since Payton did not report after a weeklong cruise, the deal was renegotiated. When the point guard failed to show up, Boston gained a considerable amount of leverage in the talks. If the Celtics so desired, they could have voided the trade.

In addition to the new terms, the Celtics waived their right to a Payton physical. And now, theoretically, Payton does not have to report until training camp begins in October.

According to Celtics spokesman Bill Bonsiewicz, the team is "thrilled" to have Banks back and "fully expects" Payton in town for the start of camp. But it is clear the deal in both its original and altered forms does not sit well with Payton, who remains concerned about relocating to the East Coast, particularly with a 16-year-old daughter scheduled to start high school. Soon after the sides originally agreed to the deal, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak acknowledged that neither Payton nor Fox was happy about making the move to Boston.

Payton's frustration relates primarily to how the Lakers handled his situation. After the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the NBA Finals, Payton exercised his contract option, expecting to settle in LA. He never expected the Lakers to trade him. But with one year worth $5.4 million left on his contract, Payton proved a particularly attractive trade centerpiece for Boston.

While the Celtics will not comment publicly about potential problems with Payton, the return of Banks provides some insurance at point guard. Once again, Boston is three deep at the position, with rookie Delonte West rounding out the mix.

Before the trade, the Celtics had high hopes for Banks's development under coach Doc Rivers. They still believe the speedy point guard can make big strides this season, if he matures and makes better decisions. Last season, he averaged 5.9 points and 2.2 assists in 17.1 minutes per game. Statistically speaking, the Celtics lose little by letting Jones go to the Lakers. Beset by injuries last preseason that kept him from earning a spot in the rotation, Jones averaged 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game in 2003-04.

With Banks in Boston instead of Jones, the financial ramifications of the deal were slightly altered. Banks is guaranteed $2.7 million over the next two years with a team option worth $2 million for 2006-07. Jones has two years worth $3.6 million remaining on his contract.

It's unlikely Boston will see Fox in a Celtics uniform, retirement and a buyout of the one year worth $5.1 million remaining on his contract an option. The Celtics could also receive some sort of insurance-related dispensation if Fox, who was beset by injuries last season, is not healthy enough to compete.

For the past week, Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge declined to comment in detail about the deal. He wanted to wait until the teams finalized the transaction before trumpeting the newcomers or criticizing the recently traded. It may prove to be the most intelligent and pragmatic move of his tenure. The Celtics hope the deal becomes official Monday, at which time Ainge is expected to make himself available for an in-depth assessment. It's unknown whether Payton will be in town Monday to comment as well.


FLCeltsFan said...

Unfortunately, by the time Payton became a Celtic, he was more like the Mitten than the Glove, but still, he brought some veteran leadership to the team.

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