Long before Kyrie, there was another polarizing subject in Boston: the first Antoine Walker trade to Dallas. This was controversial at the time because, after a long, futile stretch the Celtics were coming off back-to-back playoff appearances with Walker and Paul Pierce as co-leaders. And despite the East being as weak as any period in modern history, there was optimism, in some circles any way, that this roster would be a contender for years.
Enter rookie GM Danny Ainge, who was hired in the middle of a second-round playoff loss, and who was already on record as not liking Walker's game from his time as a TNT announcer. Ainge traded Walker days before the 2003-2004 season because he thought Toine had too big of an influence on the locker room. He also didn't want to give Walker — whose game relied disproportionally on 3's, and who had a tendency to pack on the pounds — a max contract in another year.
The deal was sound in theory but was made worse when the centerpiece, Raef LaFrentz, failed a physical right after the trade, which Ainge refused to void. LaFrentz was a solid, if unspectacular player in Boston but he missed a ton of games with that bum knee, and he never fulfilled his vast potential, the one that led to him being the #3 pick in the 1998 draft. Ainge later dumped him for Theo Ratliff's contract, the salary that helped land KG.
Post-trade the Celtics experienced several years of middling play as they drafted and developed young players in the late first and second rounds, pieces that secured KG and Ray Allen and the 2007-2008 championship.
The trade on paper was Walker + Tony Delk for Lafrentz, Jiri Welsh, Chris Mills, and a 2004 Mavs pick that became Delonte West, but was later improved when Ainge dealt Welsh for a 1st round pick that he then flipped to the Suns for Rajon Rondo.
Looking back all these years later the deal can viewed as the beginning of a championship team — albeit 5 years later — or as an example of Ainge's early ineptitude as he made a series of lateral moves that never really got the team on track.
Walker thrived early in Dallas, but was traded less than a year later to the Atlanta Hawks, who then dealt him back to Boston at the 2005 trade deadline. Walker was a role player the rest of his career, and his weight (and financial troubles) are well documented.
If you remember that period, where were you on the Walker trade at the time, and how do you see it now?