Monday, August 16, 2004
GP respects Celtics, aims fury at Lakers
ESPN.com news services
WALTHAM, Mass. --- All Gary Payton wants is a little respect. And maybe to play for a team other than the Celtics.
After the Lakers traded Payton to Boston, the All-Star point guard was reportedly furious, didn't show up for his required physical with his new team and, on Sunday, told the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise that he will quit if facing entering the Celtics' training camp in October.
"I'll quit," Payton told the newspaper. "I can go on and do something else.
"I wasn't going to Boston to take a physical. I ain't going to move my family no more. I can't take my family to Boston."
Payton said he didn't have anything against the Celtics, but that he felt the Lakers had failed to honor their agreement with him when Payton exercised his one-year $5.4 million contract option to continue to play in Los Angeles.
"It's about respect," Payton told the Press-Enterprise. "[The Lakers] didn't respect me. Why should I respect them?
"They used me so they could get other players," Payton said, adding that "Boston is going to lose out on this. They ain't going to get nothing."
The 14-year veteran was traded to the Celtics, along with Rick Fox, for Chris Mihm, Chucky Atkins and Marcus Banks. The Celtics also received a conditional first-round draft pick and cash in the deal and sent a second-round pick to the Lakers.
Banks, however, returned to the Celtics in a trade amendment Friday; Jumaine Jones went to L.A. instead. If Payton quits, with Fox reportedly considering retirement, the trade would leave Boston with only the draft pick and cash.
Payton, 36, also told the Press-Enterprise that he would forfeit the $5.4 million if he had to, saying he didn't care about the money.
Danny Ainge, director of basketball operations, delivered an
update on Payton's status Monday.
Ainge said he has spoken with Payton's agent, Aaron Goodwin,
every day for the past week, but has not heard from Payton since
making a trip to his California home Aug. 9 in an attempt to
convince the disgruntled point guard to come to Boston.
"There are no updates as far as Gary's desires," Ainge said.
"We're still very excited, and very hopeful, of getting Gary in a
Goodwin confirmed his client's intentions in Monday's Boston Herald, and agreed that the Lakers had told Payton that they wanted him back.
"The stunner here isn't playing for Boston. The stunner is what the Lakers did," Goodwin said, explaining that the Lakers "didn't keep their word."
Payton is reportedly upset with the trade
because, among other things, he has a 16-year-old daughter about to
start high school and is unwilling to relocate his family.
Payton has also said he never would have re-signed with Los
Angeles if he knew the Lakers didn't want him back. Payton's
choices now are to either report to Boston or retire, but Ainge
says he thinks Payton will wind up in Boston.
"I think Gary was shocked about the way the whole thing went
down," Ainge said. "The issues Gary is facing with his family are
real. [But] I'm optimistic and hopeful that Gary will come and play
for the Boston Celtics."
But Goodwin tempered his client's refusal to play for the Celtics, despite Payton's insistence that he wanted a trade to the Timberwolves, Clippers or Rockets, saying Payton has not made a final decision on the matter.
"Right now he hasn't even digested the fact that he's been traded," Goodwin explained. "He respects the Boston organization, and he sees this as a good opportunity."
Ainge said he spoke with Banks, the Celtics first-round pick in
2003, over the weekend and cleared the air after reports that Banks
was upset about the trade.
"We never wanted to move Marcus, so we're excited to get him
back," Ainge said. "He never wanted to leave. He's excited to be
back. There were just a couple days there where they were just kind
of freaking out."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.