Friday , Mar , 04 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Celtics bring back ‘The Glove’

Boston, MA (Sports Network) – The Boston Celtics strengthened their squad Friday by bringing back veteran guard Gary Payton. As per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

Payton started 54 games for Boston this season before being dealt to Atlanta last month in the Antoine Walker trade. Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a future first-round draft pick were sent to the Hawks for Walker.

The 36-year-old Payton, who was then waived by Atlanta on March 1, is in his first year with Boston after being acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason. He is averaging 12.1 points and 6.1 assists this season.

Payton threatened not to play with the Celtics after being obtained in the summer, but eventually arrived and was reportedly in talks for a contract extension.

Last season, Payton was brought to LA at a reduced rate, along with the recently-retired Karl Malone, as the two players tried to win their first NBA championship. However, the mission fell just short as the Lakers lost in the NBA Finals to Detroit in five games.

The Oregon State product also had an extremely brief stint in Milwaukee and is in his 15th year, which included spending the first 13 seasons in Seattle. Drafted with the second overall pick in the 1990 draft, Payton is the Sonics’ all-time points, assists and steals leader.

Payton, who was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1996 and was an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection in eight consecutive seasons (1994-2001), has averaged 17.7 points, 7.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game during his stellar career.

Payton was also named All-NBA First-Team in 1998 and 2000 and was selected to the NBA All-Star team on nine occasions. In addition, Payton was a member of the gold medal-winning 1996 and 2000 U.S. Men’s Olympic teams.