Walker trade clears the air in Boston

The five-player trade between the Mavericks and Celtics may turn out very well for Boston.

Updated: October 21, 2003, 2:04 PM ET
By Dr. Jack Ramsay | Special to ESPN.com

Antoine Walker
Walker will get to shoot 3s in Dallas, too.
A black cloud hovered over Antoine Walker's situation with Boston Celtics management ever since they decided not to extend his contract. On Monday, Boston made an atmosphere-lifting, five-player deal that sent the All-Star forward to the Dallas Mavericks.

With the air cleared, it looks as if Boston has come out fairly well in the deal. While Walker put points on the board, he was a marginal percentage shooter (.388 from the field) who made a habit of taking too many low-percentage shots from the 3-point line. Last season, Walker took 1,554 shots and 582 of them were from beyond the arc.

The Celtics not only picked up some talent with the acquisitions of Raef LaFrentz and Jiri Welsch, but they also added team unity.

LaFrentz fits well into Jim O'Brien's offense. He's a good 3-point shooter who can stretch the defense and give Boston a more accurate threat from long distance. LaFrentz is a good offensive rebounder who can also block shots and run the floor. The latter will help the Celtics in fastbreak situations.

While LaFrentz doesn't possess Walker's passing abilities, he certainly won't hurt the Celtics' game in that regard. Overall, he's a better fit for the structure of this team.

Welsch still needs to prove himself, but he's shown that he can play and has great potential. He can pass the ball, run the floor and play in a free-flowing offensive structure. But we'll have to wait and see how much he lives up to expectations and if he contributes.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how Walker and Tony Delk fit into Don Nelson's system in Dallas.

Although he's not a point guard (he's more of a small two), Delk has shown flashes of excellent 3-point shooting and should fit into the Mavs' 3-point-based scheme.

Certainly, Walker will be a big part of the Mavs' running game. He's an excellent passer in transition and should fit well into Nellie's defensive scheme and help the Mavs with rebounding. But Nellie will probably frown on Walker's insistence on pulling up and firing erratic 3-point shots.

It will also be interesting to see if Walker starts in Dallas. Nellie is very creative and resourceful, and he'll put all kinds of combinations on the floor. He might play a front line of Antawn Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki and Walker and let the opposing team worry about matching up. But right now, it's too early to tell.

What we do know is that Nellie will most likely put on his lab smock, mix up all kinds of concoctions in his basketball lab and wait to see whether this experiment explodes.

Dr. Jack Ramsay, who coached the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, is an NBA analyst for ESPN and a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

Legendary coach and Basketball Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Ramsay serves as lead game analyst for The NBA on ESPN Radio and provides analysis for ESPN's SportsCenter and ESPN2's NBA FastBreak. He also contributes to ESPN.com and ESPN The Mag.