Author Topic: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade  (Read 1099 times)

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Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« on: May 19, 2019, 02:23:43 PM »

Offline Never Nervous Pervis

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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?


Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2019, 02:28:55 PM »

Offline Celtics4ever

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Glad to see him, go , here.   I never cared for his antics and thought him to be an inefficient player.   That being said, many here adored him.

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2019, 02:42:05 PM »

Offline Roy H.

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I wasn't a big fan of the trade at the time.  I didn't like the return.  Antoine had been coming off two straight All-Star appearances.  I think most of us knew that Raef was damaged goods.

Danny made some follow up moves that worked out well.  Trading Jiri for a 1st; bundling Chris Mills with other spare parts for another #1 that became Tony Allen.  But, the team ultimately traded a lottery pick (Brandon Roy; Rudy Gay) to get out of a year of Raef's contract.

Danny admitted at some point that as a young GM, he didn't fully appreciate the importance of cap flexibility in making the trade.  I think that was the biggest problem with the deal. 
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Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2019, 02:50:57 PM »

Offline Moranis

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The timing of the trade as much as anything destroyed that next season and quite possibly a couple of after that.  You can't trade you 2nd your best player and the emotional leader of the team on the eve of the season for no real apparent reason other than just not liking the player.  It was a poor move made much worse by the timing.
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Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2019, 02:53:14 PM »

Offline Never Nervous Pervis

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I wasn't a big fan of the trade at the time.  I didn't like the return.  Antoine had been coming off two straight All-Star appearances.  I think most of us knew that Raef was damaged goods.

Danny made some follow up moves that worked out well.  Trading Jiri for a 1st; bundling Chris Mills with other spare parts for another #1 that became Tony Allen.  But, the team ultimately traded a lottery pick (Brandon Roy; Rudy Gay) to get out of a year of Raef's contract.

Danny admitted at some point that as a young GM, he didn't fully appreciate the importance of cap flexibility in making the trade.  I think that was the biggest problem with the deal.

Good analysis. I forgot the subsequent Mills trade that landed Tony Allen.

I was disappointed we passed on Brandon Roy, too, but I seem to recall the Celtics medical staff was worried about the condition of his knee, concern that turned out to be wise.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 05:08:37 PM by Never Nervous Pervis »

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2019, 02:53:55 PM »

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I fall along both Roy's and C4E's opinions. I couldn't wait to see Toine go. He had become a complete waste of talent and I had seen enough of a guy with dominant ability down low chuck 25 footers at will, and generally, getting worse and worse at it.

But, I hated the return on the trade and thought Danny could have done a whole bunch better.

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2019, 04:26:14 PM »

Offline jambr380

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Antoine was my favorite player - I loved him, loved his leadership, and loved that he was a homegrown project. The return, in my opinion, was awful, and I stand by that to this day. It took me a long time to warm up to Danny, but I have considered him the best gm in the league since the KG/Ray trades.

I am on record repeatedly - especially on CelticGreen where I frequented quite a bit back then - that I thought the trade was horrible and that LaFrentz was horrible. The subsequent moves helped make up for the colossal mistake that was this trade, but it was a giant hole to dig ourselves out of in Danny's 1st year.

And, no, I don't buy into the logic that Raef became Ratliff which became KG. There were many other avenues that could have brought us the matching salary we needed for KG - especially starting back in 03-04. If Danny hated Antoine so much, then he should have just dumped him for an expiring instead of acquiring that albatross LaFrentz contract. He seemed like a nice guy, but I even get chills just typing his name to this day  :o

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2019, 05:15:18 PM »

Offline Never Nervous Pervis

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Antoine was my favorite player - I loved him, loved his leadership, and loved that he was a homegrown project. The return, in my opinion, was awful, and I stand by that to this day. It took me a long time to warm up to Danny, but I have considered him the best gm in the league since the KG/Ray trades.

I am on record repeatedly - especially on CelticGreen where I frequented quite a bit back then - that I thought the trade was horrible and that LaFrentz was horrible. The subsequent moves helped make up for the colossal mistake that was this trade, but it was a giant hole to dig ourselves out of in Danny's 1st year.

And, no, I don't buy into the logic that Raef became Ratliff which became KG. There were many other avenues that could have brought us the matching salary we needed for KG - especially starting back in 03-04. If Danny hated Antoine so much, then he should have just dumped him for an expiring instead of acquiring that albatross LaFrentz contract. He seemed like a nice guy, but I even get chills just typing his name to this day  :o

All excellent points. I, too, loved Walker his first two years. In fact, I really liked his game going back to Kentucky, and saw, with the addition of Mercer and Billups the following season, a young, athletic, versatile core that should have been a challenger in the east for the next decade.

By the time Ainge traded him, though, I had become frustrated with his over reliance on bad 3s. And even though I hated the deal in the moment, within a day or two I had come around to Ainge's reasoning. I wonder what other deals were out there to be had?



Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2019, 06:08:00 PM »

Offline jambr380

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Antoine was my favorite player - I loved him, loved his leadership, and loved that he was a homegrown project. The return, in my opinion, was awful, and I stand by that to this day. It took me a long time to warm up to Danny, but I have considered him the best gm in the league since the KG/Ray trades.

I am on record repeatedly - especially on CelticGreen where I frequented quite a bit back then - that I thought the trade was horrible and that LaFrentz was horrible. The subsequent moves helped make up for the colossal mistake that was this trade, but it was a giant hole to dig ourselves out of in Danny's 1st year.

And, no, I don't buy into the logic that Raef became Ratliff which became KG. There were many other avenues that could have brought us the matching salary we needed for KG - especially starting back in 03-04. If Danny hated Antoine so much, then he should have just dumped him for an expiring instead of acquiring that albatross LaFrentz contract. He seemed like a nice guy, but I even get chills just typing his name to this day  :o

All excellent points. I, too, loved Walker his first two years. In fact, I really liked his game going back to Kentucky, and saw, with the addition of Mercer and Billups the following season, a young, athletic, versatile core that should have been a challenger in the east for the next decade.

By the time Ainge traded him, though, I had become frustrated with his over reliance on bad 3s. And even though I hated the deal in the moment, within a day or two I had come around to Ainge's reasoning. I wonder what other deals were out there to be had?

I completely understand people not necessarily being a big fan of Walker's game at the time he was traded - he was certainly a divisive figure - but I do think as time passes by, the players people compare to him seem to get worse both in talent and personality.

The guy really did give his heart and soul to the franchise and was playing within the game plan O'Brien had instituted. Instead, he gets lumped in with the Blounts and Vin Bakers of the world. People have either totally forgotten what kind of player he was or have never actually seen him play. During a dark time in Cs history, the Antoine/Paul teams were really a joy to watch.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 09:29:44 PM by jambr380 »

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2019, 10:55:24 PM »

Offline sirnastee

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Ah, toine definitely drove me crazy.  The only memory I have of him that was pleasant, was when he was yelling at everyone at the end of the 3rd quarter and the fired up Celtics came back to beat the Nets in the playoffs down over 20 points.  I was so happy to see him go, but I was definitely disappointed by the return we got.  I remember i had season tickets the season before he was traded and during the off season, they called me to see if I wanted to renew the season tickets.  I told the guy to call me back after you get rid of Toine and I'll think about it.  And the same guy actually ended up calling me few months later after the trade!

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2019, 11:26:23 PM »

Offline Kuberski33

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Ainge needed to do something. That team was going nowhere, but the return was pretty poor. LaFrentz sucked.

The trade they made 2 years prior (they got Delk & Rodney Rogers for Joe Johnson & Milt Palacio was good in the short term because it led to the best run of the Toine-Pierce era Celtics - but it really hurt long term because Johnson turned into an all-star.

So that was really the start of Ainge's efforts to rebuild the team.  It was necessary but he probably should have gotten a better return for one of the team's 2 best players.

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2019, 11:26:26 PM »

Offline SHAQATTACK

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Ah, toine definitely drove me crazy.  The only memory I have of him that was pleasant, was when he was yelling at everyone at the end of the 3rd quarter and the fired up Celtics came back to beat the Nets in the playoffs down over 20 points.  I was so happy to see him go, but I was definitely disappointed by the return we got.  I remember i had season tickets the season before he was traded and during the off season, they called me to see if I wanted to renew the season tickets.  I told the guy to call me back after you get rid of Toine and I'll think about it.  And the same guy actually ended up calling me few months later after the trade!

ditto.

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2019, 11:47:05 PM »

Offline OnPoint

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It's important to note the cap situation Danny was dealing with at the time. Ainge inherited a bloated and expensive payroll highlighted by a troubled Vin Baker. That Baker contract severely limited Ainge's roster flexibility to obtain assets.

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2019, 01:14:25 AM »

Offline libermaniac

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Those O’Brien led Cs teams were before their time. Chucking 3s that look tame by today’s standards. I loved Toine and hated the trade but not nearly as much as I hated giving up the 6th pick for Sebastian freaking Telfair. Was that really all about matching salaries for a KG trade a year later? I find that hard to believe.

Re: Revisiting the Antoine Walker trade
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2019, 07:28:26 AM »

Offline jambr380

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It's important to note the cap situation Danny was dealing with at the time. Ainge inherited a bloated and expensive payroll highlighted by a troubled Vin Baker. That Baker contract severely limited Ainge's roster flexibility to obtain assets.

The problem with this statement is that even with limited flexibility, Ainge decided to take on one of the worst contracts of all-time for a player who was expiring the next year. LaFrentz had just signed a 7 year/$70M the year before - meaning he still had 6 years left on his deal when we acquired him. I remember being totally distraught that we now had an injured near max player who I didn't like for the next 6 years.

 

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