Elfrid Payton

Warriors Working Out Ben McLemore, Elfrid Payton, Others

The Warriors are bringing in a number of veteran free agents this week for workouts, league sources tell Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

According to Charania and Slater, some of the free agents taking part in the workouts are Ben McLemore, Elfrid Payton, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kenneth Faried, Miye Oni, Ty-Shon Alexander, Wesley Saunders, and Jon Axel Gudmundsson.

Golden State also held similar free agent workouts in August, according to Charania and Slater, who say that Shabazz Muhammad, Solomon Hill, Tyler Cook, and Kelan Martin were among the players who participated in those sessions about two weeks ago.

The purpose of this week’s workouts is twofold — as Tim Kawakami of The Athletic tweets, the players currently on the Warriors’ roster are beginning their informal pre-camp work at the team’s facility this week, so the free agents who join them will help ensure there are enough bodies to play 5-on-5 scrimmages. Additionally, there’s an expectation that the Warriors could sign one or more of the auditioning veterans to their 20-man training camp roster, per Charania and Slater.

Golden State currently has 18 players under contract (13 on guaranteed standard deals), with Jerome Robinson expected to be the 19th. That leaves one spot available for now.

Andre Iguodala has yet to decide whether he’ll retire or return to the Warriors for another season, so it’s possible he could fill that 20th and final roster spot (and become the 14th man on the team’s projected regular season roster). Robinson, Mac McClung, Pat Spencer, and Trevion Williams are among the camp invitees who could compete for a place on the 15-man regular season roster, especially if Iguodala doesn’t return.

Charania and Slater also note that that, while Lester Quinones and Quinndary Weatherspoon are currently on two-way deals, those roster spots are flexible. According to The Athletic’s duo, the Warriors are high on Weatherspoon, who is a candidate to join the 15-man roster either this fall or later in the season

Stein’s Latest: Morris, Hornets, Mitchell, Lakers

Veteran free agent power forward Markieff Morris is under consideration as a reserve acquisition for the Sixers in addition to the Nets, writes Marc Stein in a new article for Substack.

Stein notes that the 32-year-old was known to be a vocal locker room presence while on a star-studded 2019/20 championship-winning Lakers club, and could be a good fit for a Brooklyn team fielding several at-times angsty superstars.

Morris missed most of his 2021/22 season with the Heat due to a major neck injury after entering the season as a key reserve. In his 17 available regular season games with Miami, Morris averaged 7.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.4 APG. The 6’9″ big man out of Kansas posted a shooting line of .474/.333/.889.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • As the Hornets consider reserve point guard options behind developing All-Star LaMelo Ball, the team has broadened its list of potential targets to include former Suns point guard Elfrid Payton, according to Stein. Isaiah Thomas, who fulfilled the role adequately last season, is still being looked at, as is Pistons point guard Kemba Walker, a three-time All-Star while with Charlotte whom Stein expects to be bought out of his current deal.
  • The Lakers‘ 2027 and 2029 first-round draft selections, along with the expiring contract of incumbent point guard Russell Westbrook, could be used to help complete a three-team Donovan Mitchell trade for the Jazz, either with the Knicks or even another suitor. Stein writes that the draft picks could hold significant appeal for Jazz team president Danny Ainge, who earlier this summer received quite a bounty in future draft equity as part of his blockbuster deal that shipped former Utah All-Star Rudy Gobert out to the Timberwolves.
  • Stein cautions that the Lakers, who leveraged a lot of future draft picks in their trade for Anthony Davis, remain fairly protective of the 2027 and 2029 picks. Given that L.A. is fielding a team with (currently) three maximum-salaried veterans all with at least 10 years of experience, one would expect the club to very much be in win-now mode, but the team only wants to make a move if it values the returning players as being worth the sacrifice. Stein defines that as players who can help the team return to its standing as a championship contender, following a disappointing 33-49 season that saw the Lakers on the outside of the play-in tournament looking in.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Lakers, E. Payton, Preston

Since starting the season with a 41-13 record, the Warriors lost 12 of their next 18 games, prompting Draymond Green to call out the team after Tuesday’s loss in Orlando for “playing stupid” and “getting punked,” as Kendra Andrews of ESPN writes.

The Warriors immediately responded to that criticism in impressive fashion on Wednesday night in Miami, beating the Heat by 14 points without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or Green active. According to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic, Wednesday’s victory made it clear that Golden State has enough pieces on its roster to make a legitimate run at this year’s title.

How far the Warriors go will ultimately be determined by how much they get from their stars, but if Curry, Thompson, Green, and Andrew Wiggins are healthy and playing well, a supporting cast made up of players like Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, Otto Porter, Jonathan Kuminga, and Gary Payton II is good enough to make the team “incredibly tough to beat,” writes Thompson.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Lakers, who are currently tied with the Pelicans in the Western Conference standings, view Sunday’s game in New Orleans as a “must-win,” according to Russell Westbrook. Dave McMenamin of ESPN has the story and the quotes.
  • Elfrid Payton‘s 10.9 minutes per game this season are easily a career low, falling far short of the 28.5 MPG he had averaged in his previous seven seasons. However, he has been willing to embrace a reduced role for the NBA-best Suns, per Dana Scott of The Arizona Republic. “I’m just trying to do my job and stay ready, try to keep this thing going in the right direction,” said Payton, who likely won’t see much action going forward with Chris Paul back in the lineup.
  • Clippers rookie guard Jason Preston has yet to make his NBA debut after undergoing foot surgery in October, but he has impressed veteran teammate Reggie Jackson with his understanding of the game.Selfishly for me, it’s like having another coach,” Jackson said of Preston’s presence on road trips (Twitter link via Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group). “Smart kid.”

Injury Updates: Payne, Crowder, Ayton, Gobert, Bogdanovic, LaVine

The Suns will be without one of their key rotation players for at least a couple weeks. Cameron Payne will be reevaluated in two weeks after suffering a sprained right wrist, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. The reserve guard suffered the injury on Saturday against Indiana.

Payne is averaging 10.5 PPG and 3.6 APG as Chris Paul‘s backup. Elfrid Payton will likely absorb some of his minutes and Devin Booker will see more action at the point.

Jae Crowder (wrist) and Deandre Ayton  (ankle) also missed Monday’s game against Utah but are considered day-to-day. Ayton has missed four consecutive games due to a right ankle sprain suffered at Detroit on January 16.

We have more injury updates:

  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert suffered a left calf strain in the late going against Golden State on Sunday, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. “I tried to play through it. But I could feel I wasn’t moving right and I didn’t want to make it worse,” he said. Gobert missed Monday’s game against Phoenix but the strain is considered mild and he isn’t expected to be sidelined for an extended period, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.
  • The Jazz‘s Bojan Bogdanovic has a left finger avulsion fracture but can continue to play with it, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. The injury, which occurred against Houston last week, is a ligament that has been pulled off the bone. He can’t bend it and will require a splint for the next four-to-six weeks. Bogdanovic also didn’t play on Monday.
  • Bulls star guard Zach LaVine returned to action on Monday after a five-game absence, James Collier of ESPN writes. LaVine was sidelined with a left knee injury. He had not played since exiting in the first quarter on January 14 against the Warriors after feeling soreness in his left knee.

COVID-19 Updates: McGee, Buchanan, Hill, Wanamaker, More

JaVale McGee is the latest Suns player to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. McGee joined Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder, and Abdel Nader in the protocols on Thursday evening.

On the plus side, the Suns did get Elfrid Payton out of the protocols for the second time this week — Payton was placed in the protocols on Sunday and Wednesday, but quickly cleared both times, so it’s possible he has registered multiple false positive tests in recent days.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates from around the league:

  • Shaq Buchanan, signed by the Grizzlies as a hardship replacement player, has now entered the health and safety protocols himself, according to the team (Twitter link). Buchanan’s 10-day deal runs through Tuesday night, so it may expire before he clears the protocols.
  • The Hawks‘ COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread, as Malcolm Hill – a 10-day hardship addition – has entered the protocols, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Hill, who had appeared in three games since signing with the team last Wednesday, is one of a dozen Atlanta players in the protocols.
  • Brad Wanamaker signed a 10-day deal with the Wizards on Wednesday, recorded seven points and seven assists in his first game with the club on Thursday, and has now entered the health and safety protocols on Friday, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. He’s one of seven Wizards players affected.
  • Kenyon Martin Jr. exited the COVID-19 protocols and practiced with the Rockets on Thursday, says Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • We continue to update our health and safety protocols tracker several times per day. It can be found right here.

COVID-19 Updates: Payton, Nader, Lopez, Ross, Cavs, Duke

It has been an unusual week for Suns guard Elfrid Payton, who entered the health and safety protocols on Sunday, then exited them on Monday after what appeared to be a false positive. On Wednesday, prior to Phoenix’s game vs. Oklahoma City, Payton reentered the protocols, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes.

The specifics of Payton’s situation are unclear, but he’ll now remain in the protocols for at least six days unless he can once again return two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart.

According to Rankin, Payton wasn’t the only Sun to be placed in the protocols on Wednesday — Abdel Nader has also joined that list. However, Nader has been out of Phoenix’s lineup since November 19 due to what the team has called “right knee injury management,” so his placement in the protocols had no real impact on the rotation.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Magic center Robin Lopez has entered the COVID-19 protocols, the team announced on Thursday morning (via Twitter). However, Terrence Ross is listed on Orlando’s latest injury report as out due to “return to competition reconditioning,” which suggests he has exited the protocols. With Lopez in and Ross out, there are still five Magic players in the protocols.
  • The Cavalierslatest injury report lists Jarrett Allen, Dylan Windler, and Lamar Stevens as going through return to competition reconditioning, so they’ve cleared the protocols. Allen is considered doubtful for Thursday’s game in Washington, while Windler and Stevens are questionable.
  • Nets rookie David Duke has exited the health and safety protocols, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Brooklyn’s list of players in the protocols was in the double-digits earlier this month, but is now down to just two — Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe.
  • Our running list of players in the protocols can be found right here.

COVID Updates: Wiggins, Poole, Len, Payton, Rogers, Tolliver, Wright

Here are the latest developments regarding players entering or exiting the league’s health and safety protocols:

  • Andrew Wiggins has cleared the protocols, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. The Warriors forward practiced on Monday and is probable to play on Tuesday against Denver, Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Wiggins entered protocols on December 19.
  • Guard Jordan Poole has also cleared the protocols, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. He’ll return to the Warriors’ facility on Tuesday but won’t play as the team needs to assess his conditioning, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.
  • Kings center Alex Len is listed as questionable to play on Tuesday, which indicates he’s cleared the protocols, James Ham of The Kings Beat tweets.
  • Suns guard Elfrid Payton returned to action on Monday after clearing the protocols, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Payton had just entered the protocols on Sunday, so apparently he had a false positive.
  • We noted earlier on Monday that Blazers coach Chauncey Billups has entered the protocols. Assistant coach Roy Rogers is also in the protocols, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian tweets.
  • Anthony Tolliver‘s 10-day contract with the Pelicans has been voided after he tested positive for COVID-19, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. Tolliver was signed on Sunday.
  • Moses Wright, who has been playing on a 10-day contract with the Clippers, has also entered the protocols, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets.

COVID-19 Updates: Suns, Blazers, Rockets, Wolves, More

Here are the latest health and safety protocols updates from around the NBA:

Entering the protocols:

  • Jae Crowder and Elfrid Payton have become the first two Suns players to enter the COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
  • The Trail Blazers‘ outbreak continues to grow, with Jusuf Nurkic and Cody Zeller among the players now in the protocols, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Seven Portland players have been placed in the protocols since Friday.
  • Rockets guard Garrison Mathews became the second Houston guard to enter the protocols today, joining teammate D.J. Augustin, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Timberwolves big man Naz Reid is now in the health and safety protocols, bringing Minnesota’s list of affected players up to eight, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.
  • The Thunder announced today that they’ve placed rookie guard Tre Mann in the protocols. Oklahoma City now has two players affected — Mann and Darius Bazley.

Exiting the protocols:

  • Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to action on Sunday when the Kings hosted Memphis. Fox had been in the health and safety protocols since December 16.
  • A pair of TimberwolvesPatrick Beverley and Josh Okogie – are no longer in the health and safety protocols, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. They’re both listed as questionable for Monday’s game vs. Boston.
  • Clippers forward Marcus Morris has cleared the health and safety protocols, though he remained inactive on Sunday as he goes through a reconditioning period, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
  • Cavaliers wing RJ Nembhard was no longer listed on the team’s injury report on Sunday and played vs. Toronto, so he’s out of the protocols. Isaac Okoro has exited the protocols too, though he’s still working his way back, according to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff (Twitter link via Kelsey Russo of The Athletic).

Suns Sign Elfrid Payton To One-Year Deal

AUGUST 10: The Suns have officially signed Payton, the team announced today (via Twitter).


AUGUST 9: Payton and the Suns have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Gambadoro (Twitter link) confirms that the deal is for a veteran’s minimum salary, as he previously reported.


AUGUST 5: The Suns are close to an agreement on a one-year contract with free agent guard Elfrid Payton, Alex Kennedy of Basketball News tweets.

Evan Sidery of Basketball News broke the news on the Suns’ negotiations with Payton (Twitter link), while John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 confirms (via Twitter) that the club has made a one-year, minimum-salary offer.

If the contract is finalized, Payton would be signing up for a second stint with the organization. He played 18 games with Phoenix during the 2017/18 season.

Payton started 63 games with the Knicks this past season but his production declined after the All-Star break and he was benched during the first-round playoff series against Atlanta. Payton averaged 10.1 PPG and 3.2 APG in 23.6 MPG during the regular season.

The Western Conference champions have reached agreements with their top two point guards, Chris Paul and Cameron Payne, so Payton would slot in as a third-stringer behind that duo if the two sides finalize a deal.

Eastern Notes: Pacers, Knicks, Madar, Nets, Wizards

While it’s not out of the question that the Pacers will make a major trade this offseason, the team isn’t any rush to move Myles Turner or Malcolm Brogdon, the two names that pop up most frequently in Pacers-related trade rumors, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

Of those two players, Turner is less likely to be dealt, according to Michael, who suggests that new head coach Rick Carlisle would like to try to figure out the best way to maximize the Turner/Domantas Sabonis duo. It’s possible Carlisle will split up the two Pacers bigs and have Turner come off the bench to start the season, Michael adds.

As for Brogdon, the Pacers have been trying to determine whether he’s the right long-term fit as the team’s point guard and leader, according to Michael. As Michael details, Indiana had some locker room issues in 2020/21 and president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard suggested at the end of the season that the club lacked vocal leadership. The Pacers may expect more in that regard from Brogdon going forward.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • The Knicks, who remain on the lookout for another point guard, have some interest in Dennis Schröder, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman also says New York contacted Elfrid Payton at the start of free agency, though it’s unclear if the club views him as a viable fallback option.
  • Yam Madar, the 47th overall pick in the 2020 draft, hopes to play for the Celtics this season, he told reporters on Tuesday. As Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets, Boston’s plan is to see how Madar’s Summer League stint goes and to evaluate its options from there.
  • Nets star Kevin Durant is thrilled that Blake Griffin is set to return to the team for another season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “To have Blake back, I’m so excited,” Durant said from Tokyo. “I mean, as soon as the season was over, I was telling him that we want him back and telling him that, you know, we should try to do it again. And I was glad to see it get done.” In a separate story, Lewis confirms that James Johnson‘s new deal with Brooklyn is worth the veteran’s minimum.
  • After recently announcing a new deal for NHL star Alex Ovechkin, the centerpiece of his other franchise, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis discussed the contrast between how things played out with Ovechkin and Russell Westbrook, per Emily Kaplan of ESPN. “We had a superstar player with the Wizards, he had an opportunity and wanted to be traded to the Lakers,” Leonsis said. “And I was dealing with that as we were announcing Alex. I couldn’t help but self-reflect on what a difference it is. Here’s a great player in Russell Westbrook, played in OKC, wanted to be traded, went to Houston, wanted to be traded, came to D.C., wanted to be traded and is now in L.A. He’s an unbelievably great person and an unbelievably great player. But that’s the difference between the NBA and the NHL, I suppose.”