Employee #8 Checks In


Toine checks in

Few were more critical of Danny Ainge through the years than the main player in the director of basketball operations' first major trade - Antoine Walker.

After helping Miami win the NBA title two years ago, Walker even expressed sympathy for the predicament of former teammate Paul Pierce.

But the roles finally shifted last night. Walker, traded to Minnesota by the Heat at the start of the season, is struggling to find a role in a Timberwolves rotation that is committed to youth.

The ultimate irony is that so many of those players were Pierce's teammates when Walker sent his sympathy card.

But regardless of how he may still feel about Ainge, Walker has to admit that the oft-criticized plan finally bore fruit.

``I'm happy for those guys - Kevin (Garnett), Ray (Allen) and Paul,'' Walker said before last night's game. ``After winning a championship, you get excited for guys who are able to get that same feeling.

``It's good for the organization and the city. Everyone in Boston has been patiently waiting. It's going to be exciting for them.''

The irony of this role reversal isn't lost on Pierce.

``I feel for him in his situation,'' Pierce said, using words similar to those Walker once used to describe him. ``I can relate to what he's going through. After winning a championship and tasting that success, that's definitely not the situation that you want to end up in.''

Walker, who has two years left on his contract, has no idea what his future holds with the Timberwolves. He has started once in 35 games and is averaging 20.1 minutes.

``It's been tough for me,'' said Walker, who scored three points in 14 minutes last night. ``We just have to figure out how I can benefit the team. But right now, the coaches and management are trying to figure everything out. ``The only thing I can do right now is try to play it out. I'm looking forward to getting a chance in my situation.''

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