The news came down early yesterday morning and it was similar to hearing that the Patriots had released Lawyer Milloy. “The Celtics traded Antoine Walker?” Shock was the initial first reaction. In some ways the moves were similar. Both were captains and acknowledged leaders of their teams. Both are known for their tireless work in the community. Both were cast aside because the team didn’t think they were worth the money that they wanted and were making. The only difference is the Celtics were able to get at least a little something in exchange for Walker. The early returns have Patriots coach Bill Belichick looking good with his move to jettison Milloy. Lets hope Danny Ainge looks good in the future as well. It’s no secret that I was fond of Antoine. I like his competitiveness, his versatility, the leadership he brought to a young team. I like that he never wilted in Boston. He was a guy who could take the heat of playing here and went through some tough times. Now he’s off to Dallas. Bob Ryan seems happy that Ainge was able to find a taker for Antoine, a player that he just could never quite warm up to. Steve Bulpett says Antoine’s days here were numbered as soon as Ainge took over the operations of the team. Shira Springer has quotes from Antoine and Ainge on the deal, Walker wasn’t too surprised, and seems almost relieved, while Ainge notes that Antoine had too big a grasp on the franchise for a player of his skills. Jackie MacMullan looks at what the Celtics got in the deal, noting the strengths of LaFrentz’s game and saying that Jiri Welsch could be the key to the deal and a real player in time. Gerry Callahan in a pay column somehow uses the trade of Walker in an analogy to show that Grady Little should be fired. He says Ainge had the guts to remove his star for the good of the team, and if Grady had done that, the Sox would still be playing. Peter May says that this move shows that Ainge and the Celtics mean business. Lenny Megliola feels that as the least, the Celtics will be more interesting this season. He has some pretty warm words for Walker in the article. Jerry Trecker looks at the trade for the Courant. Carolyn Thornton looks at the trade for the ProJo. Craig N. Liadis notes that Antoine’s last game as a Celtics was played in Manchester and was typical Antoine…”Run-ins with refs. Dismal shooting. Decent, yet unspectacular production.” Bulpett says that Antoine did not fit into the master plan developed by Ainge. Michael Gee isn’t sold on the trade, noting that:

O'Brien's best hope is that the trade is a wash. The GM who made the trade admitted it could be "a step back.'' The Celts' slogan about aiming for championship No. 17 sounds even sillier than it did when Walker was still co-captain.

Ainge is a smart man. The only possible explanation for making this particular deal for Walker is if Ainge concluded he had no chance to sign Antoine to a long-term contract extension, and decided to cut his losses.

Bill Reynolds says the deal really shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering Ainge’s clear feelings on Antoine’s style of play. Mark Murphy looks at Raef LaFrentz, who will be reunited with college teammate Paul Pierce. Mark Cuban says LaFrentz could immediately become the second best center in the East. Thornton looks at the players involved in the trade. Springer looks at what the deal means for Paul Pierce and the rest of the Celtics. Jim Baker gets reaction from Tommy Heinsohn and Mike Gorman on the deal, but of whom were surprised, but understand why the deal was made. Scott Souza gets quotes on the deal from a number of people around the Celtics. Jon Wallach likes the trade. Zach Rocha is worshipping Danny Ainge for simply getting Antoine out of town. Bulpett looks at how Paul Pierce will be affected by not having his running mate on the floor with him.

(many of the following articles require a free registration) In Dallas, Eddie Sefko looks at the potent offensive force that is now the Mavericks with the addition of Walker. Kevin Sherrington says the Mavs absolutely fleeced the Celtics in this deal. Art Garcia says the Mavs couldn’t pass this up. Sefko also looks at the Trades impact on all involved. David Aldridge of ESPN calls this a steal for the Mavs as well. Chris Broussard of the NY Times feels this deal is “severely lopsided in Dallas’s favor” until we see how Welsch develops. Hoopsword says Christmas came early for the Mavericks this year.

Bill Reynolds remembers Ernie Calverley, Rhode Island’s first basketball superstar, and a former Celtic.

Kevin Mannix hands out his Patriots report card. He starts it off by praising Tom Brady for living for big moments. Ron Borges has praise for the Patriots, noting that this team is likely going to get better. Kevin McNamara says the defensive scheme of hawking to the ball has fit this personnel very well. Alan Greenberg looks at the team still riding high after the win Sunday. Christopher Price looks at a happy Monday for the team. Mike Reiss looks at the impressive job done by the entire coaching staff thus far. Michael Smith looks at how the Patriots continue to defy the odds in this crazy season. Tom Curran takes Charlie Weis to task for questionable playcalling on Sunday. Smith’s notebook has Belichick not commenting on the coin toss controversy. Rich Thompson’s notebook looks at how the Patriots have meetings to figure out how to get turnovers from the other team. McNamara’s notebook looks at Richard Seymour enjoying the win over Miami. Reiss’ notebook has an injury update on Ty Law.

Tony Massarotti says the Red Sox should make a run at Andy Pettitte in the offseason. Michael Holley and Jeff Horrigan say that Joe Torre is backing Grady Little. Of course he is. If you were Joe Torre, wouldn’t you want Little managing against you again next year?

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Steve Conroy examine the Bruins West coast road trip.

Bill Griffith looks at the return of Dennis and Callahan.