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Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

NBA
Notebook: Payton makes Celtics squirm

By Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press

JED JACOBSOHN / GETTY IMAGES
Gary Payton, shown laughing in May, isn't happy about a trade from Los Angeles to Boston.
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LOS ANGELES — Guard Gary Payton might never play again, but he continues to influence two teams at once, forcing Boston Celtics officials to shift uncomfortably and sharply criticizing the Los Angeles Lakers in the aftermath of the Aug. 6 trade that ended Payton's turbulent, one-year stay with the Lakers.

Traded to the Celtics as part of a five-player deal, Payton has refused to report for a physical with his new team, a move that left Boston officials on the defensive yesterday in their first public comments since the trade.

"There are no updates as far as Gary's desires," Danny Ainge, Boston's director of operations, told reporters. "We're still very excited, and very hopeful, of getting Gary in a Celtics uniform.

"I think Gary was shocked about how the whole thing went down. The issues Gary is facing with his family are real. I'm optimistic and hopeful that Gary will come and play for the Boston Celtics."

Payton, a former Sonics standout, told Lakers officials he wanted to stay in Los Angeles because his 16-year-old daughter is starting high school. Payton also has said that he did not expect to be traded after exercising a one-year, $5.4 million option a few weeks after the Lakers had lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

Payton, 36, is entrenched on the West Coast — he has homes in Los Angeles, Oakland and Las Vegas. He has played 1,081 of his 1,109 league games with Western Conference teams, and has said that he would retire instead of playing for the Celtics.

In a recent interview with the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise, Payton said the Lakers erred in trading him.

"It's about respect," Payton told the newspaper. "They didn't respect me. Why should I respect them? They used me so they could get other players.

"Boston is going to lose out. They ain't going to get nothing."

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, who is on vacation, was unavailable for comment.
 
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Payton averaged 14.6 points and 5.5 assists last season, well below his career averages, and fell to 7.8 points in the playoffs. He was a disruption at times and complained about his lack of playing time in the postseason.

Even if Payton chooses not to report when Celtics training camp begins in October, the trade is still official, leaving the Celtics with a net gain of about $2 million and a lottery-protected first-round selection in next year's draft.

Forward Rick Fox, who also was obtained by the Celtics in the trade, is expected to retire.

Payton's refusal to show up for a physical caused a reconfiguration of the trade Friday at the Lakers' expense.

The Lakers returned to the Celtics intriguing point guard Marcus Banks and received Jumaine Jones, another small forward in an already overcrowded Lakers frontcourt. The Lakers also returned a second-round draft choice to the Celtics.

The Lakers ended up with Jones, reserve Chris Mihm and veteran Chucky Atkins, who is penciled in to start at point guard.

Ainge came to Los Angeles after the trade to meet with Payton and sell the nine-time All-Star on playing for the Celtics.

Payton has not talked to Celtics officials since leaving a few days later on a vacation with his family.

Banks, who went to UNLV and was a Lakers fan, was not happy about being sent back to the Celtics after the trade was revised, although Ainge yesterday put on a positive spin.

"We never wanted to move Marcus, so we're excited to get him back," Ainge said.

Notes

• Boston signed forward Tom Gugliotta, 34, to a one-year contract. The former All-Star hasn't averaged more than 6.5 points per game since tearing three ligaments in his left knee during the 1999-2000 season and will most likely be used as a role player.

• The expansion Charlotte Bobcats traded center Predrag Drobnjak to the Atlanta Hawks for a second-round pick in next year's draft. Drobnjak spent two seasons with the Sonics before signing with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003.

• The Clippers signed point guard Lionel Chalmers, whom they selected in the second round of the draft.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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