There has been no more polarizing player for the Celtics than Antoine Walker. Some fans absolutely love him. Some hate him. There really isn't much middle ground when it comes to Walker. But, I have never understood the hatred for Walker because he loved being a Celtic, both times. And, he played hard when he was with the Celtics and was a good teammate. No matter how you feel about him as a Celtic, you have to feel bad for the guy because of how far he has sunk in the league.
Just a couple of years ago, he was on top of the world as a key contributor to the Heat's championship. He was kind enough to invite his buddy Paul Pierce to the Finals to watch his triumph and then afterwards told Pierce that if he ever wanted to win a championship he had to get out of Boston. Thankfully, Pierce didn't take Antoine's advice.
After the Championship season, the Heat hit a rough patch and dismantled the team with Antoine going to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In spite of his 3 time All Star status, he was relegated to a role off the bench, averaging only 19 minutes per game and played in just 46 games as the Wolves went on with their youth movement.
Now, Walker finds himself with the Grizzlies who have told him up front that he will not play there as they don't see him supplanting any of their young players. From the Commercial Appeal:
Now, the 32-year-old veteran forward walks to the scorer's table just as the game is about to tip off. He greets the Grizzlies' starters, hugging one or two, giving handshakes to others and encouraging them all as they take the court.
Then Walker takes a seat, never takes off his warm-up suit and tries to contribute more goodwill from the bench.
That, in a nutshell, will be his role with the Grizzlies.
Walker has been told that he won't play, a decision designed by circumstance more than anything. The Griz are on a full-blown youth movement and the only position where Walker can still be mildly effective is power forward.
However, it's the same spot on the floor the Griz want to give ample time to Darko Milicic, Hakim Warrick and rookie Darrell Arthur for their development.
This is truly a sad state for Employee No. 8 who has fallen so far from his pinnacle of 2 seasons ago. Love him or hate him, you have to feel for the guy.