OCTOBER 2: The signing is official, the Bucks announced in a press release.
OCTOBER 1: Damian Lillard appears to have a new backup.
The 6’1″ vet out of Murray State is joining a revamped Milwaukee squad after salvaging his career with a four-year stint on the Suns.
The No. 14 pick in the 2015 lottery, Payne struggled to develop through runs with the Thunder, Bulls and Cavaliers. He really found his footing after signing on with Phoenix in 2019. Across his four seasons with the Suns as Chris Paul‘s backup, Payne posted regular season averages of 9.8 PPG on .434/.384/.833 shooting splits. He also contributed 4.2 APG, 2.6 RPG and 0.7 SPG.
In July, the Suns traded Payne, a 2025 second-rounder and cash to the Spurs for a 2024 protected second-round draft pick. He was waived by San Antonio in September, becoming an unrestricted free agent. Payne had been owed a guaranteed salary of $6.5MM.
Payne now looks likely to become the primary reserve behind newly acquired All-Star point guard Lillard on a starry East contender that seems poised to once again contend for a top seed in the conference.
Though terms of the deal have yet to be divulged, the Bucks cannot offer Payne anything above the veteran’s minimum due to their proximity to the tax aprons.