Ryen Russillo of 1510 the Zone first reported locally that Antoine Walker is back with the Celtics in a trade for Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta and Michael Stewart. Russillo has become the Celtics insider in the Boston media, as no one has broken as many stories about the team as he has the last couple years.

It was also reported at 3:18 in an ESPN Insider chat. It’s now also on the homepage of ESPN.com, along with a short report. The Herald has the story as well, with Steve Bulpett, who also says that the Celtics will surrender the “lesser of their first round picks this season”. Boston.com finally has an update as well, with Shira Springer saying that the Celtics are “in the process of reaquiring Walker”.

While I was a big Antoine fan while he was here before, I was initially pretty shocked and baffled by this move. Gary Payton can’t be happy about going to the Hawks, either. There’s some speculation that Payton will simply not report to the Hawks, be cut by them and then be free to sign with a Western contender. (or as a very remote possibility, back here in Boston) WWZN is now also reporting that Payton is expected to be released by the Hawks.

It will be interesting to see how Walker plays under Doc Rivers and not Jim O’Brien. I think he can bring some leadership to the team, and will take the heat…something that he always did willingly during his tenure here, but where does he fit? Is it just a rental through this season? Does Ainge have a free agent target for the offseason?

Has anyone checked on Bob Ryan?