Gary Payton is for the Children
I have a pretty decent Kobe article in the works, but due to it being close to finals, I will instead grace you with my favorite article I have found on the Payton-Situayton in Boston. Courtesy of the Providence Journal:
Celtics Notebook: Payton heeded call of team's rookies
BY CAROLYN THORNTON
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- Two of the top teams in the West wanted him. At one point, the top team in the East wanted him. But he picked Boston.
For all his talk about wanting to play closer to his family on the West Coast and wanting to play for a championship contender, Gary Payton ultimately decided that for the next couple of months, anyway, he wants to remain a Celtic.
As expected, the veteran point guard -- who was part of last week's four-player trade with Atlanta but came to a buyout agreement with the Hawks -- cleared waivers yesterday morning and re-signed with the Celts. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Payton said that turning down offers from Phoenix and Sacramento, both teams that are right around the corner from his Los Angeles home, was difficult and that it didn't have to do with the fact that he would most likely have assumed a back-up role with either of them, saying he would still have played 30 to 35 minutes a game.
He talked about not being into change and about not wanting to go somewhere where he would have to learn a whole new system. Ultimately, though, he said it was the Celtics' rookies who won him over.
"The young kids were calling me almost every day," said Payton, who was greeted last night with a big bear hug from rookie point guard Marcus Banks. "It was like, 'Come on back, Gary. Come on back,' so I decided it was the right fit for me to come back here. . . . I thought these young guys, I really thought I was obligated to come back to them and teach them some more."
Rookie big man Al Jefferson didn't have Payton's phone number, but said he "was praying every night.
"I can't live without you, man," he said. "Who else is going to cuss me out?"
Watching Boston go 3-0 while he relaxed at home last week, Payton also saw the possibilities for the Celtics now that Antoine Walker is back in the mix.
"I think if they keep playing the way they're playing and then me bringing more energy into it, I think the young guys will be sensational," he said. "Al Jefferson,Delonte (West), everybody has been great. I think Ricky (Davis) has been playing very well of late, with Antoine getting a lot of rebounds. And him and Al Jefferson playing together, that's been a great combination right there. If we keep our minds focused and play these next 24 games hard like it's playoff intensity, we're going to the playoffs and going pretty deep."
Payton starting again
Payton's return will most directly impact West and Marcus Banks. West had been starting at the point in the vet's absence, but Payton was right back in the starting rotation last night against Charlotte.
Rivers wouldn't commit to how many minutes any of them will be playing now, saying that different situations and matchups will dictate who he puts on the floor.
"Delonte, down the stretch in games, let's say if he had to be in, is probably better because of his shot," Rivers said. "He's not a guy that you want to leave open, and he's a guy that wants to take the shot. But when we need more speed, when we need to run more pick and rolls, if they have a big man on the floor who we deem has slow feet, then Marcus is a better fit because he's better in the pick and roll. He has more speed and we can take advantage of that. So it's nice having two relief pitchers like we have."
With Tony Allen still recovering from a right ankle sprain, there may also be times that West and Banks will be on the floor together.
"I actually like that lineup," said Rivers. "That's something we kind of stumbled on due to injury. I never thought I could play those two together because of their size, and it actually has worked out better than I thought. It gives us speed. It gives us outside shooting, as well."
The Raiders of NBA?
Davis looked around the locker room yesterday and at the personnel the Celtics now have and made the observation: "We're the Oakland Raiders," referring to the NFL team's rebel reputation.
"I think I knew what he meant," said Rivers. "You see Gary, who was basically an outcast at times last year. Ricky. Antoine has come back. It's a funny statement when he said it. I laughed, but that's pretty interesting."
Speaking of football, Patriots tight end Daniel Graham attended last night's game.