Pacific Notes: Payne, Lecque, Kokoskov, Len

Cameron Payne recalls a brief conversation during his rookie year with Thunder assistant Monty Williams that led to his latest NBA opportunity, writes Gina Mizell in her Valley Tales Newsletter. Williams, now the head coach of the Suns, decided to take a chance on Payne when the team had a roster spot to fill prior to the restart.

“That (discussion) played into … my talks with (general manager James Jones about signing him),” Williams said. “I saw a young man who’s really talented, comes from a really good family and he takes coaching well.”

Payne’s career has featured a lot of disappointment after Oklahoma City made him a lottery pick in 2015. He battled through injuries and ineffective performance with the Thunder and Bulls, and had been out of the league since signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the Cavaliers last January. He had a brief stay in China this season, then joined the G League to help get his game back on track.

“I don’t want to see myself outside of this league again,” Payne said. “And the biggest way for me to do that is to be consistent, be on time and outwork the next guy. My whole thing is I want to leave on the court that I played my hardest. I gave my all. I never want to take no shortcuts anymore, because it’s not worth it. It’s not worth being on the outside looking in when you feel like you should be in there.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jalen Lecque participated in practice Saturday, giving the Suns a full roster for the first time since arriving in Orlando, Mizell tweets.
  • Assistant Igor Kokoskov left the Kings Saturday to begin his duties as head coach of Fenerbahce in the EuroLeague, the team announced in a press release. The former Suns head coach joined Luke Walton’s staff last summer. “I’d like to congratulate Igor on his promotion to head coach of Fenerbahce and thank him for his dedicated time with the Kings,” Walton said. “He has been a valuable member of my coaching staff and his natural ability to guide our players will continue to inspire the team as we move forward in Orlando. We wish him all the best.” 
  • Kings center Alex Len won’t play in Sunday’s game against the Magic because of conditioning issues, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV. Len was late reporting to the Walt Disney World campus after contracting COVID-19.

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