Rivers would be 'very, very surprised' if GP didn't

Updated: March 3, 2005, 1:42 AM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would be "very, very surprised" if point guard Gary Payton doesn't re-sign with the team.

After the Celtics' victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, Rivers said he spoke to Payton earlier in the day. The deal could be completed as soon as Payton clears waivers, which is expected to happen Thursday.

Payton, a nine-time All-Star, was traded to Atlanta last week along with Michael Stewart and Tom Gugliotta in exchange for forward Antoine Walker, who spent the first seven years of his career with Boston.

It would be quite a turnaround for Payton, who was reluctant to report to Boston when he was traded to the Celtics from the Lakers last summer.

The 36-year-old Payton averaged 12.1 points and 6.1 assists for the Celtics while serving as a mentor to the team's younger guards.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press