Doc: Glove fits well into lineup

Updated: March 5, 2005, 6:16 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Gary Payton was back in Celtics green Friday night, one week after Boston shipped him off to Atlanta in a trade for Antoine Walker.

Payton, who re-signed with Boston on Friday after being waived by the Hawks, said he chose the Celtics over Sacramento and Phoenix.

"I thought Boston was the better fit," Payton said before the Celtics faced Charlotte on Friday night.

"With the young guys, I thought I was obligated to come back to them and teach them some more," he said. "The young kids were calling me almost every day saying 'come on back Gary.' I decided it was the right fit to come back here."

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The 36-year-old guard was traded to Atlanta with Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a first-round draft pick at the NBA trading deadline.

The deal brought Walker back to Boston, where he played seven seasons before being shipped out 1½ years ago. But it also left the Celtics without an experienced point guard.

"To add Antoine here, it seems like a good fit and we could go pretty far if I would come back," Payton said.

Payton started for the Celtics on Friday night, finishing with 10 points and four assists in Boston's 104-84 victory over the Bobcats.

Payton's welcome back to Boston was a markedly different scene from when he was initially dealt from the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason. Then, there were questions about whether he would report because Boston was so far from his West Coast home.

But Payton proved a good addition, averaging 12.1 points and 6.1 assists, bonding with teammates and providing valuable leadership for the team's young guards.

"I started here and I have a relationship with these kids that made it a little easier [to return]," he said.

Payton said he didn't consider playing for the rebuilding Hawks.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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