L.A. gets Mihm, Banks, Atkins in deal

Updated: August 8, 2004, 9:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- The rebuilding Lakers, in need of a big man since trading Shaquille O'Neal to Miami, had to give up Gary Payton to get one.

Dr. Jack analysis:
Mihm has potential
Chris Mihm
Mihm
This deal might work out well for the Celtics with Gary Payton and Rick Fox coming to Boston, and the Lakers could also get something from this trade.

Marcus Banks is potentially a good, young point guard while Chucky Atkins is a good backup, and those two should blend well with the talent the Lakers have already accumulated this offseason (Caron Butler, Vlade Divac, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom).

Chris Mihm has yet to show he can be a force in the NBA, but he teased Cleveland and Boston with his potential. Mihm is a shot blocker who can play the four or five position, and if he ever unleashes his game fully he will be a good fit in Los Angeles because of the Lakers' shortness of big men.
-- Dr. Jack Ramsay

Los Angeles resumed its makeover Friday by trading Payton and Rick Fox to the Boston Celtics for Chris Mihm, Chucky Atkins and Marcus Banks.

"We got a true backup center [Mihm] who can probably play a little bit of power forward, and we got much younger in the backcourt," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said.

The Celtics also received a conditional first-round draft pick and cash in the deal and sent a second-round pick to the Western Conference champions.

"As you know, we have made some dramatic changes," Kupchak said in understatement.

The teams were once among the NBA's fiercest rivals, but Boston has fallen on hard times since winning its 16th championship in 1986. Since then, the Lakers have won five titles and lost three times in the Finals, including this year's five-game upset by the Detroit Pistons.

The Lakers then traded Shaquille O'Neal to Miami and replaced coach Phil Jackson with Rudy Tomjanovich. Derek Fisher left for Golden State and Vlade Divac, Los Angeles' center from the early '90s, was brought back for another stint.

"We're hopeful, with the changes and the younger players, that we put ourselves in the position where we don't have to experience four or five years of mediocrity," Kupchak said.

"Hopefully, we'll be in a position to make the playoffs right away, advance in the playoffs, and at the same time have a good mix of young players who may be with us the next 10 years."

Payton and Karl Malone took large pay cuts to join the Lakers as free agents last summer, each All-Star hoping to win his first championship.

Kupchak said he had spoken with Payton's agent earlier Friday, and had a phone conversation with Fox.

"As you would expect, [the players] were both disappointed to be in a position where they have to move on," Kupchak said. "This is the business part of what we do.

"It was an opportunity to pick up three players, all of whom are younger than the other two players in the deal."

Kupchak said the Lakers hadn't set out to trade Payton.

"We did not try to move Gary Payton. This was an opportunity that was brought to us. Had we been uncomfortable with Gary, we would not have protected him in the expansion draft," the GM said.

Despite struggling through his first year with the team, the 36-year-old Payton exercised a $5.4 million option to come back for another season.

A nine-time All-Star who averaged 18.3 points per game over his first 13 seasons, Payton averaged 14.6 points -- his lowest since the 1992-93 season -- and a career-low 4.2 assists in the regular season last year. He averaged 7.8 points and 5.3 assists in the playoffs.

The 36-year-old point guard's departure is just the latest in a series of radical offseason changes in L.A. In the weeks following the Lakers' loss to Detroit in the NBA Finals:

  • O'Neal accepted a trade in early July, with Los Angeles receiving guard Caron Butler, forwards Lamar Odom and Brian Grant and a future draft pick from the Heat.

  • Tomjanovich succeeded Phil Jackson as coach, but only after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski turned down the Lakers' multiyear offer. The Lakers announced three days after losing to the Pistons that Jackson would not be returning

  • Kobe Bryant flirted with the Clippers as an unrestricted free agent before re-signing with the Lakers for more than $136.4 million over seven years.

  • Fisher, frustrated with losing playing time to Payton, opted out of the final two years of his deal and signed with the Warriors.

    Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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