Spurs, Clippers, Thunder Eye Adreian Payne

The Spurs, Clippers and Thunder have “fringe” trade interest in Adreian Payne, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities says in his latest edition of “The Scoop” podcast. The No. 15 pick from the 2014 draft has seen spotty playing time this season but this week returned earlier than planned from a D-League assignment because of injuries to other Minnesota frontcourt players, Wolfson adds. Wolfson casts doubt on the notion of a trade involving Payne before the February 18th deadline, suggesting instead that the idea might resurface in the summer.

Payne, who turns 25 the day after the trade deadline, is making close to $1.939MM this year in the second season of his rookie scale contract. Minnesota picked up its team option of more than $2.022MM for next season. The former Michigan State stalwart enjoyed significant playing time down the stretch last season on a banged-up Timberwolves team, making 22 starts in 29 games and averaging 7.2 points and 5.4 boards in 24.8 minutes per contest. That came after a February 2015 trade in which Minnesota sent a conditional future first-round pick to Atlanta to free Payne from the Hawks, for whom he saw action in only three games.

The Clippers have a hole at power forward with Blake Griffin out, but they reportedly want a small forward, with Rudy Gay among their targets. The Thunder are also apparently focusing on the wing, lending credence to the notion that the interest in Payne is muted. It’s unclear what the Spurs are looking for, though losses to the Warriors and Cavaliers last week exposed San Antonio’s flaws after a sterling 38-6 beginning to the season.

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