Atlanta Hawks

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Antoine Walker Returns to Boston

ATLANTA (Feb. 24, 2005) -- The Atlanta Hawks today acquired a 2005 or future first-round draft pick along with Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta and Michael Stewart from the Boston Celtics in exchange for forward Antoine Walker, according to Executive Vice President/General Manager Billy Knight.

"This trade will give us the opportunity to continue to develop our nucleus of young players for the remainder of the year," said Hawks Executive Vice President/General Manager Billy Knight. "We're thrilled to be able to make a deal which brings another first round draft choice, while still allowing us salary flexibility this summer. We thank Antoine (Walker) for his contributions to the organization both on and off the court, and wish him the very best."

"Billy (Knight) has done an outstanding job of shaping our club and this move provides us with a strong draft pick and needed salary flexibility to keep building on the solid foundation that is in place," said Steve Belkin, one of the Hawks owners and Governor. "I've known Antoine (right) a long time and aside from his basketball talent, he has great character and has done a lot for the organization on and off the court. We will certainly miss him and wish him well."

"We are building a foundation and the key to our success is going to be the development of our talented young players," said Michael Gearon, one of the Hawks owners. "When given more playing time, these kids have more than delivered, and this move creates a terrific opportunity for them to continue to grow into the type of players we feel they can be."

Payton has started 54 contests for the Celtics this season, averaging 12.1 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.0 rpg and 1.2 spg (.454 FG%, .307 3FG%, .736 FT%). He spent his first 12 ½ NBA seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics, and still ranks as the Sonics’ all-time franchise leader in games played, points, minutes, steals, assists, field goals made and attempted, and three-pointers made and attempted. The nine-time All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive team selection was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1996. He has also won two gold medals (1996 and 200) as part of the U.S. Olympic team.

The 6-4 guard was traded from Seattle to Milwaukee, along with Desmond Mason, in exchange for Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie, Ronald Murray and a conditional first-round draft choice on February 20, 2003. Payton signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 16, 2003. He was acquired by the Celtics, along with Rick Fox and a conditional first-round pick, from the Lakers, in exchange for Chucky Atkins, Jumaine Jones and Chris Mihm on August 13, 2004.

In his 14th NBA season, Payton was originally drafted by the SuperSonics in the first round (2nd overall) of the 1990 NBA Draft after a standout career at Oregon State. Gary Dwayne Payton was born July 23, 1968 in Oakland, CA.

Gugliotta has spent time with Washington, Golden State, Minnesota, Phoenix, Utah and the Celtics in his 13-year career. The 6-10 forward from North Carolina State (1992) has seen action in 20 contests with Boston this season, averaging 1.3 ppg and 2.2 rpg (.297 FG%, .667 FT%). He has played in 736 career games (599 starts), and has averaged 13.2 ppg and 7.4 rpg (.451 FG%, .756 FT%).

Thomas James Gugliotta was born December 19, 1969 in Huntington Station, NY.

Stewart has been on the injured list with bilateral knee tendinitis this season, and hasn’t seen action since the 2003-04 campaign, when he played in 25 games for Boston and Cleveland. The seven-year NBA veteran has also spent time with Sacramento (one season) and Toronto (1998-2002). He owns career averages of 2.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 1.0 bpg (.439 FG%, .525 FT%) in 274 career games.

Michael Curtis Stewart was born April 24, 1975 in Cutz Trepied Stella Plage, France.

Returning to the team he spent his first seven NBA seasons with, Walker started all 53 games for the Hawks this season, averaging 20.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 3.7 apg and 1.2 spg (.415 FG%, .317 3FG%, .534 FT%). He has led the Hawks in scoring (t22nd in NBA), rebounding (t13th), assists and minutes (6th), and is second in steals (t40th). His 24 double-doubles ranks 13th in the league.

The 6-9 forward has career averages of 20.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg and 4.2 apg (.414 FG%, .325 3FG%, .645 FT%) in 663 career contests. He has appeared in 31 playoff games. Walker was acquired by the Hawks, along with Tony Delk, from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Jason Terry, Alan Henderson and a future first-round pick on August 4, 2004.

“I’m happy that I’m going to a team I’m familiar with,” Walker said, “but I’m sorry I’m leaving Atlanta. I got very close with the young guys as well as some of the other players like Al, who I became good friends with. And while you hope you can remain together, I understand the business aspect of the NBA. I appreciated playing for Coach Woodson, and I thank Billy (Knight) for giving me the opportunity, and for trading me to a team in playoff contention.”

The first-round draft pick the Hawks will receive is the lesser of the Celtics’ own 2005 first-round pick and the pick they obtained from the Lakers on August 13, 2004 as part of the Payton deal. Regardless of when the Hawks receive the pick, it is lottery protected.

In a related move, the Hawks have waived guard Kenny Anderson and forward Chris Crawford to complete the deal. Additionally, Tony Delk (left hand contusion) and Donta Smith (left knee tendinitis) are being placed on the injured list.

Atlanta Hawks season tickets can be purchased by calling (404) 827-DUNK or by visiting The Hawks, a member of the National Basketball Association since 1949, play in the newly-created Southeast Division, along with the Charlotte Bobcats, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.