"We got a true backup center [Mihm] who can probably play a
little bit of power forward, and we got much younger in the
backcourt," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said.
The Celtics also received a conditional first-round draft pick and cash in the deal and sent a second-round pick to the Western Conference champions.
"As you know, we have made some dramatic changes," Kupchak
said in understatement.
The teams were once among the NBA's fiercest rivals, but Boston
has fallen on hard times since winning its 16th championship in
1986. Since then, the Lakers have won five titles and lost three
times in the Finals, including this year's five-game upset by the Detroit Pistons.
The Lakers then traded Shaquille O'Neal to Miami and replaced
coach Phil Jackson with Rudy Tomjanovich. Derek Fisher left for
Golden State and Vlade Divac, Los Angeles' center from the early
'90s, was brought back for another stint.
"We're hopeful, with the changes and the younger players, that
we put ourselves in the position where we don't have to experience
four or five years of mediocrity," Kupchak said.
"Hopefully, we'll be in a position to make the playoffs right
away, advance in the playoffs, and at the same time have a good mix
of young players who may be with us the next 10 years."
Payton and Karl Malone took large pay cuts to join the Lakers
as free agents last summer, each All-Star hoping to win his first
Kupchak said he had spoken with Payton's agent earlier Friday,
and had a phone conversation with Fox.
"As you would expect, [the players] were both disappointed
to be in a position where they have to move on," Kupchak said.
"This is the business part of what we do.
"It was an opportunity to pick up three players, all of whom
are younger than the other two players in the deal."
Kupchak said the Lakers hadn't set out to trade Payton.
"We did not try to move Gary Payton. This was an opportunity
that was brought to us. Had we been uncomfortable with Gary, we
would not have protected him in the expansion draft," the GM said.
Despite struggling through his first year with the team, the
36-year-old Payton exercised a $5.4 million option to come back for
A nine-time All-Star who averaged 18.3 points per game over his
first 13 seasons, Payton averaged 14.6 points -- his lowest since
the 1992-93 season -- and a career-low 4.2 assists in the regular
season last year. He averaged 7.8 points and 5.3 assists in the playoffs.
The 36-year-old point guard's departure is just the latest in a series of radical offseason changes in L.A. In the weeks following the Lakers' loss to Detroit in the NBA Finals:
Tomjanovich succeeded Phil Jackson as coach, but only after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski turned down the Lakers' multiyear offer. The Lakers announced three days after losing to the Pistons that Jackson would not be returning
Kobe Bryant flirted with the Clippers as an unrestricted free agent before re-signing with the Lakers for more than $136.4 million over seven years.
Fisher, frustrated with losing playing time to Payton, opted out of the final two years of his deal and signed with the Warriors.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.