Warriors’ Gary Payton II Picks Up 2024/25 Player Option

Warriors guard Gary Payton II has exercised his player option for the 2024/25 season, reports Kendra Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). While most player option decisions are due on June 29, Payton’s deadline to opt in was June 19.

The move will guarantee Payton a $9.13MM salary for next season, putting him on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2025 if he doesn’t sign a contract extension before then. He’ll be extension-eligible for the entire 2024/25 league year, beginning in July.

A stalwart perimeter defender, Payton averaged 5.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 15.5 minutes per game across 44 appearances off the bench for the Warriors last season, with a shooting line of .563/.364/.609. The 31-year-old has been affected by injuries over the past couple years, appearing in just 66 total regular season games since playing in 83 total contests (71 regular season, 12 playoffs) for Golden State’s title-winning team in 2021/22.

At the end of the Warriors’ season in April, Payton expressed a desire to remain with the team and referenced the possibility of “redoing” his deal, leading to speculation that he might turn down his option in order to sign a longer-term contract with a smaller starting salary, giving Golden State some additional short-term cap flexibility. However, while that scenario was explored, the numbers didn’t make for both sides, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Payton’s decision to opt in means the club will have to account for his $9MM+ cap hit, pushing team salary closer to the luxury tax threshold. The Warriors now have $137MM in guaranteed money on their books for eight players in 2024/25. That figure doesn’t include the $5MM non-guaranteed portion of Kevon Looney‘s contract, Chris Paul‘s $30MM non-guaranteed salary, or a potential deal for free agent swingman Klay Thompson. The luxury tax line next season projects to be just north of $171MM.

As Slater points out, Payton’s opt-in doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll spend next season in Golden State, since his expiring contract could be a useful salary-matching piece in a trade. But as long as he’s healthy, the veteran guard is the team’s best backcourt defender and a valuable role player — his +5.8 net rating was the second-best mark among Warriors regulars in 2023/24, Slater notes.

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