Cameron Payne

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Kerr, Green, Payne

Lakers superstar LeBron James acknowledged he must adjust due to the absence of Anthony Davis, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. James finished with 19 points (and four free-throw attempts) in the team’s loss to Miami on Saturday, mostly playing facilitator as the Heat double-teamed him throughout the game.

“I think that’s what it all boils down to, and right now is another challenge for me, to be able to adjust,” James said. “Not having AD for a long period of time is something that we haven’t had over the last year and a half, and now it’s time for me to adjust again and see ways I can be even more effective to help this team win ballgames. Because that is the sport that we’re in.

“We’re in the winning business, and I’ve always been a winner. So, it’s time to click into that.”

Davis is expected to miss at least another week or two with a calf strain, while starting point guard Dennis Schroder is out due to the league’s health and safety protocols. The Lakers have lost two straight games and currently own a 22-9 record — tied with the Clippers.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes Draymond Green let his emotion get the best of him in the final seconds of Saturday’s game, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes. Green was ejected in the 102-100 loss to the Hornets, picking up two technical fouls in the heat of the moment and giving Charlotte the two free throws that tied the game. “He crossed the line,” Kerr explained. “That’s the main thing. We love his passion and his energy. We would not be the team we are without him, but that doesn’t give him license to cross that line, and he knows that.”
  • While still too early to seriously discuss, the outspoken Green is seen as a strong candidate to become a broadcaster once his playing career ends, Richard Deitsch of The Athletic writes. In addition to frequently speaking his mind, the Warriors forward has a high basketball IQ and is a three-time NBA champion.
  • Suns guard Cameron Payne had a tough road back to the NBA, Brian Snyder and Greg Moore examine for the Arizona Republic. Payne has once again served as a valuable asset for Phoenix this season, averaging 7.3 points, 3.8 assists and 17.7 minutes per game. He’s also shot 49.5% from the field and 45.7% from deep.

Suns Notes: Crowder, Arena, Payne, Roster

Jae Crowder‘s arrival at training camp was delayed by personal issues apparently unrelated to COVID-19, but the Suns forward has reported to his new team and said this week that he’s “looking forward to moving forward,” writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Crowder was one of the most popular free agents on the market last month, telling reporters that 14 teams expressed interest in signing him (video link via Rankin). He cited recruiting from Chris Paul and Devin Booker as a significant factor in his decision to choose Phoenix.

Those guys made a strong pitch and I felt like Devin is ready for real pressure,” Crowder said. “When I say real pressure, that’s playoff basketball. Playing for it all.”

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • The Suns announced in a press release on Thursday that they won’t host fans at their home games to start the 2020/21 season, a decision that “did not come easily,” per team president/CEO Jason Rowley. “Our fans are the lifeblood of the Suns organization, and we want nothing more than to welcome our fans into our newly transformed arena in Downtown Phoenix,” Rowley said in a statement. “… However, we are exercising an abundance of caution and doing our part to maintain the health and safety of all our stakeholders during this crisis.”
  • Cameron Payne was a regular part of the Suns’ rotation during the team’s 8-0 run during the summer restart. Given the changes the roster has undergone since then, he’s looking to reestablish himself as a key contributor going forward, writes Duane Rankin for The Arizona Republic.
  • Gina Mizell of Suns.com takes a look back at the Suns’ offseason moves, writing that the front office was able to add veterans with playoff experience, as well as improving the team’s depth and outside shooting.
  • In case you missed it, despite being hired in 2019, Monty Williams already ranks near the middle of the pack on the list of the NBA’s longest-tenured head coaches.

Suns Pick Up Option On Cameron Payne

The Suns have picked up their $1.98MM option on guard Cameron Payne, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Payne’s contract for the upcoming season only carries a $25K guarantee. He is expected to be the primary backup to Chris Paul, according to Hollinger, unless Phoenix drafts another point guard tonight.

Payne signed with the Suns at the end of June and appeared in all eight games at the Disney World complex, averaging 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists in a reserve role. A first-round pick by the Thunder in 2015, Payne also played for the Bulls and Cavaliers. He was in Toronto’s training camp last fall, but was released before the start of the season and didn’t get another NBA opportunity until joining the Suns.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Restart Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the seeding games winding down at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Carmelo Anthony, Trail Blazers, 36, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.16MM deal in 2019
Remember when Anthony’s reps were practically begging teams to give their client one more chance to play in the league? Carmelo took advantage of his opportunity with the Trail Blazers, finally accepting his new status as a role player instead of being the No. 1 offensive option. He’s turned it up a notch in Orlando during the Blazers’ run to the play-in round. The slimmed-down Anthony has reached the 20-point mark four times in eight games and made 46.9% of his 3s, while also being a factor on the boards (6.9 RPG). He won’t have to lobby for another contract after this season, nor will he have to accept the veteran’s minimum again.

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
It’s not that Ingram was terrible in Orlando. It’s just that the Pelicans stunk up the joint and the stench clung to everyone involved. Following a breakout season which earned him an All-Star selection, Ingram was unable to carry his team into the play-in round. New Orleans’ poor performances left everyone wondering whether the roster should be reshaped, especially with the front office owning a boatload of draft picks. And Zion Williamson isn’t going anywhere. So while Ingram will still get rewarded handsomely in restricted free agency, is he worth franchise-player type money? There’s no guarantee now the Pels will match if he gets a giant offer sheet.

Cameron Payne, Suns, 26, PG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.17MM deal in 2020
Payne was on the free agent market this summer and was signed to fill an open roster spot prior to the restart. Phoenix didn’t bring him in simply for insurance. He appeared in all eight seeding games as a backup point guard, averaging 10.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 3.0 APG in 22.9 MPG. Though he signed a two-year contract, only $25K of that money for next season is guaranteed, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks recently noted. The way Payne performed in Orlando, he should have no trouble staying on the roster and earning the rest of his $1.977MM salary for 2020/21 as a second-unit player.

Tyler Johnson, Nets, 28, PG/SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $217K deal in 2020
Johnson signed a four-year, $50MM offer sheet with Brooklyn four summers ago but Miami chose to retain him. He finally wound up with the Nets in free agency and got just over $200K in a rest-of-the-season deal. No matter. Johnson was happy to get fresh start and it has shown during Brooklyn’s gritty performances in Orlando. He’s averaged 12.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 3.0 APG in 24.3 MPG and can now continue his push for another contract during the postseason. If the Nets don’t retain him, Johnson should easily find a home as a second-unit combo guard.

Jerian Grant, Wizards, 27, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $197K deal in 2020
Grant was signed as a substitute player in June after Davis Bertans opted out of the restart. Grant called it a “dream come true” to play for his hometown team, but he didn’t give the Wizards much incentive to re-sign him to an NBA contract. He appeared in six restart games, averaging 4.5 PPG and 1.5 APG in 13.3 MPG while shooting 25% from long range. Grant spent most of the season with the Wizards’ G League team and he may have to go that route again or look into overseas options.

Western Notes: DeRozan, Payne, Booker, J.R. Smith

After the Spurs‘ victory on Tuesday night over the Rockets, veteran guard DeMar DeRozan was asked about his future with the organization. The 31-year-old guard has a $27.7MM player option for the 2020/21 season.

The former first-round pick did not go into much detail about his future with the Spurs and instead focused on the current task at hand.

“My mindset is always, I am here, I am living in the moment and continue to build with these (young) guys,” he said (h/t Tom Osborn of the San-Antonio Express-News). “I am just trying to go out there and get us to a playoff spot.”

Back in March, one report suggested that the 31-year-old guard was not happy about his situation with the Spurs. However, his $27.7MM option will be tough to pass up in what may be a limited free agent market.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype examined how recently-signed combo guard Cameron Payne has helped the undefeated Suns in the bubble. In the seeding games, Payne is averaging 10.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.2 APG. He is also shooting an astonishing 50 percent from three-point range. Kalbrosky points out that Payne’s ability to create his own shot as of the reasons for his success on the court.
  • All-Star guard Devin Booker has the Suns on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time since 2010, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Booker understands the magnitude of Thursday’s game and is looking forward to the challenge. “I know it’s a different format than what it’d be usually, but we can feel the energy,” he said. “We can feel the hype of the game. I’m looking forward to it.” For the Suns to get into the play-in game, they need to beat the Mavs and hope that either Memphis or Portland loses.
  • Lakers guard J.R. Smith spoke at length about his road back to the NBA with Kyle Goon of the Southern California NewsGroup. The 34-year-old sharpshooter discussed the role his father, Earl Smith Jr. played in getting him back to the league. “If you ain’t gonna play, now you gotta find something to do,” Earl said he told J.R. “I thought, ‘Get your ass in shape, go to L.A. Do your thing.” Smith has not played often in the team’s seeding games in Orlando but could be a key player in the postseason.

Western Notes: Westbrook, Kuzma, Payne, Hield

Russell Westbrook missed Thursday’s game against the Lakers, but the Rockets don’t anticipate him sitting out for long. Westbrook, who is dealing with a quad contusion, is expected to play Sunday against the Kings, coach Mike D’Antoni told Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link) and other media members. Fellow guard Eric Gordon, who hasn’t played in any games since the restart due to a sprained ankle, is expected to return sometime before the end of the seeding games, MacMahon adds.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Lakers have shot just 24.3% from long range since the resumption of play, but forward Kyle Kuzma has been one of the exceptions, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register notes. Kuzma is averaging 14.4 PPG while making nearly half (12 for 26) of his 3-point attempts. “I’m a little more healthier, but I’ve had time to really just put in work,” he said. Kuzma is eligible for a rookie scale extension after the season.
  • The Suns found a creative way to reduce their commitment to guard Cameron Payne, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. His $1.98MM salary for next season has a team option but only $25K is guaranteed if the Suns exercise it. Thus, Payne is essentially on a non-guaranteed contract next year even if the option is picked up, Marks adds. The Suns signed Payne to a two-year contract in late June.
  • Kings coach Luke Walton insists he still has faith in Buddy Hield, whose lucrative four-year extension kicks in next season. As Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee notes, Hield logged a season-low 11 minutes and matched his season low with three points against New Orleans on Thursday. “Buddy still has my trust and we need him,” Walton said. “We’re going to need him to come off (the bench) and provide that scoring punch that he’s done for us for most of the season. So it was hopefully just a one-game thing there as far as where those minutes were, but he’s a big part of our team.”

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.

Cameron Payne Signs With Suns

7:18pm: The Suns have officially signed Payne, per Gina Mizell, most recently of The Athletic (Twitter link).

6:20pm: Well-traveled point guard Cameron Payne, a current free agent most recently with the Cavaliers during the 2018/2019, has agreed to a two-year contract with the Suns, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic (Twitter link).

Since being drafted at the bottom of the 2015 lottery with the No. 14 pick out of Murray State by the Thunder, Payne has logged time – primarily as a backup – with Oklahoma City, the Bulls and the Cavaliers. He holds averages of 6.0 PPG (he is connecting on just 39.7% of his looks from the field but a decent 77.5% from the charity stripe), 1.8 RPG, and 2.5 APG.

The 26-39 Suns, led by All-Star Devin Booker, will be joining the NBA’s season restart in Orlando. The 6’3″ Payne can help the team shore up their guard depth as an end-of-bench/practice addition at either position.

No corresponding move is required, as the Suns have an open spot on their 15-man roster.

Cameron Payne Leaves CBA For G League

After appearing in just two games in the Chinese Basketball Association, point guard Cameron Payne has departed the Shanxi Loongs for the G League, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Payne joined the Loongs in November. He has been claimed off waivers by the Mavericks’ Frisco-based affiliate, the Texas Legends.

The former NBA point guard was drafted at the tail end of the 2015 NBA lottery with the No. 14 pick by the Thunder. The 6’3″ Murray State alum spent his four NBA seasons on the Thunder, Bulls and Cavaliers.

Over the course of his NBA career, Payne averaged a slash line of 6.0 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.8 RPG, while shooting 33.1% from three-point range on 2.4 attempts. He started in just 28 of a possible 153 games.

Cameron Payne To Play In China

Free agent point guard Cameron Payne is signing with the Shanxi Loongs of the Chinese Basketball Association, a source tells Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

Payne, a former first-round pick, has appeared in 153 total regular season contests for the Thunder, Bulls, and Cavaliers since the start of the 2015/16 season, but was unable to secure a regular-season roster spot this fall. He was waived by the Raptors at the end of the preseason, having been beaten out by Malcolm Miller for the team’s final roster spot.

In those 153 career NBA games, Payne has averaged 6.0 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.8 RPG with a subpar .397/.331/.775 shooting line.

As Lupo explains, the 25-year-old will join a Shanxi roster that already features two import players in Jamaal Franklin and Eric Moreland. CBA rules dictate that clubs are permitted to carry up to four foreign players, but only two of them can be on a team’s active roster for a given game.