Gary Payton II

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Kuminga, Green, Payton

Following a two-game absence due to a hyperextended left knee, Warriors swingman Klay Thompson returned to action on Tuesday night vs. Dallas and played a season-high 26 minutes.

After the game, head coach Steve Kerr said that Thompson’s minutes limit has been increased slightly (the goal is to keep him around 25) and that the team has restructured its rotation to avoid having him sit out for extended stretches, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. On Tuesday, Thompson played for the first six minutes of the first and second quarters, then had three shorter stints in the second half to ensure he could be part of the closing lineup.

“We’re just trying to avoid having him not play for 45 minutes (straight) of actual time,” Kerr said, per Slater.

Thompson, who put up 15 points and six assists and was a plus-26 in the Warriors’ blowout victory, said he prefers this pattern: “Especially at my age and what I’ve been through. It felt good to start the second (quarter). I was loose and I was active. Hopefully we can learn from it.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • After previously penciling in Jonathan Kuminga as a starter during Draymond Green‘s absence, Kerr has moved the rookie forward back to the bench for Golden State’s last three games. As Slater relays, Kerr explained his reasoning on Tuesday: “Without Draymond right now and with a minutes restriction on Klay, Andre (Iguodala) and Otto (Porter Jr.) are not playing back-to-backs, it’s been a little bit of play-it-by-ear-type stuff,” Kerr said. “It feels like we need to try and find some continuity when we can. … As long as Draymond is out, I think anything is on the table based on matchups. I think JK has played really well, so it’s not an indictment on him. It’s more just trying to find combinations that make sense for the game. We are just trying to find ways to win basically while we have guys out.”
  • Speaking of Green, Kerr said the Warriors will provide an update on the former Defensive Player of the Year on Sunday, per Mark Medina of (Twitter link). Green is dealing with back and calf ailments.
  • In an in-depth profile, James Herbert of CBS Sports takes a look at the path Gary Payton II took to the Warriors and how he has found a home in Golden State.

Warriors Guarantee Gary Payton II’s Contract

The Warriors are guaranteeing the remainder of Gary Payton II‘s $1.94MM salary this season, coach Steve Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link) and other media members.

It’s no surprise Golden State will retain Payton. It was reported two weeks ago that it was likely the Warriors would keep him around.

Payton has been a regular part of the rotation, appearing in 36 games (seven starts) and averaging a career-best 7.9 PPG and 3.7 RPG in 16.9 MPG.

All players still under contract will have their salaries fully guaranteed for the rest of the 2021/22 season on Monday but the true deadline is tomorrow, since waivers must be requested. Damion Lee is the other Warrior without a fully guaranteed salary.

Pacific Notes: Holmes, Payton, Atkinson, Bridges

Kings center Richaun Holmes returned to Sacramento’s lineup on Wednesday night after missing seven games due to a right eye injury that required a surgical procedure. As Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes, Holmes described the injury as “a lot more serious than I originally thought” and suggested it may have a lasting impact on his game-day look going forward.

“I don’t think I’ll ever play a game without goggles, honestly, but the face mask, I’m going to kind of stay in touch with the doctors on that and see how they feel,” said Holmes, who wore protective eyewear and a face mask on Wednesday. “But I don’t think I’ll ever play another game without goggles after this experience.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Warriors are expected to guarantee Gary Payton II‘s $1.94MM salary for the 2021/22 season by hanging onto him beyond next month’s league-wide salary guarantee date, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated writes in a profile of the guard. Spears adds that there has “been talk” of Golden State signing Payton to a longer deal, but he’s not extension-eligible, so that would have to wait until he reaches unrestricted free agency during the 2022 offseason.
  • Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, who had been away from the team due to a leg injury, returned to the front of the bench on Thursday night, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.
  • Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at how Suns forward Mikal Bridges has improved on the defensive end and become one of the best perimeter stoppers in the NBA. It looks more and more like the Suns got a bargain when they locked up Bridges to a four-year, $90MM extension prior to the 2021/22 season.

California Notes: Thompson, Payton II, Lue, Kings Guards

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson, who has not suited up for Golden State since the 2019 NBA Finals due to an ACL tear and an Achilles tear incurred in two separate seasons, provided new insight into his expected return timeline this season. Per Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter), Thompson revealed on a recent Instagram Live stream that he’s looking to return to action from anywhere between a few weeks to a month.

The Warriors have been doing just fine without Thompson, a five-time All-Star, thus far this season, sporting a 19-4 record, tops in the Western Conference. The 6’6″ Thompson, who will be turning 32 this season, holds career averages of 19.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.3 APG, with a sparkling shooting line of .459/.419/.848.

There’s more out of California:

  • 6’2″ Warriors guard Gary Payton II appears to have finally found a permanent NBA role as a do-everything perimeter defender for Golden State this season, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s so dynamic defensively,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And when he’s scoring as well – he made a few 3s tonight but also scored around the basket as he does – it’s hard to take him off the floor because of what he does for us… He’s really earned all these minutes.” The 29-year-old out of Oregon State is averaging 14.6 MPG across 22 games with Golden State this year.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has explained that whether or not he opts to start two traditional big men – 7’1″ center Ivica Zubac and 6’10” power forward Serge Ibaka – will be contingent on matchups, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register“I think it helps us with our rebounding,” Lue said. “It’ll be different on a night to night basis; if teams start a small four then it’d be tough to put Serge out there at the four. With this team starting the way they’re starting tonight then we can try to do it again tonight and get away with it.”
  • A four-guard crunch-time Kings lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Terence Davis and Davion Mitchell, playing alongside traditional center Richaun Holmes, has proven to be effective for Sacramento, observes Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. This rotation was trotted out against a small-ball Clippers lineup in an eventual 104-99 Sacramento victory this weekend. “It was just about pushing the pace, making them play at our pace and running,” Haliburton said. “So I thought we did a really good job of that.”

Pacific Notes: Kings, Sarver, Suns, Iger, Payton

The Kings haven’t exactly turned their season around since firing head coach Luke Walton on November 21. They had nice wins over Portland and the Lakers last week, but lost at home to a Philadelphia team missing all its starters last Monday, were blown out by a Memphis team without Ja Morant on Sunday, and lost to a LeBron James-less Lakers team on Tuesday.

Up by 12 points in the second quarter on Tuesday, the Kings were outscored by 34 in the second half and ultimately fell 117-92, prompting new head coach Alvin Gentry to express his unhappiness in his post-game presser.

“The second half was a disaster and an embarrassment, and as the coach of this team, I want to apologize to every Kings fan out there because you do not deserve this,” Gentry said, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “You deserve much, much better and we’ll find guys who will give you better.”

Post-game press conferences criticizing the Kings’ performance are nothing new for this year’s team — veteran center Tristan Thompson has ripped Sacramento’s play on multiple occasions. However, it hasn’t seemed to have had much of an effect on the 8-14 squad.

Gentry’s promise to the fans that the Kings will “find guys who will give you better” may be an indication that he intends to make changes to the lineup or rotation. If the club doesn’t start winning more, it could be just a matter of time until a more drastic roster shakeup occurs.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Baxter Holmes of ESPN provides an update on the investigation into Suns owner Robert Sarver, noting that the firm conducting the probe has begun scheduling and conducting in-person interviews with current and former team employees. However, as Holmes outlines, former employees who signed non-disclosure agreements are still seeking assurances about their ability to speak freely to investigators without facing legal consequences.
  • There’s no indication yet that the investigation into Sarver will result in him having to sell the Suns. However, reports from Matthew Belloni of and Abigail Gentrup of Front Office Sports identify former Disney CEO Bob Iger as someone who would be interested in buying the franchise if the opportunity arises.
  • Speaking to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, veteran guard Gary Payton II expressed appreciation to the Warriors for recognizing the value in his skill set and giving him a chance to play a regular role this season. “Golden State understands what I bring to the table, my defensive skills, my off-ball cutting, screening, being able to play the dunker and just take open shots when they present themselves,” Payton said. “There are a lot of guys, like Draymond (Green), that can do a lot of different things and help win games. Not every player is going to score 30, and, I obviously don’t shoot like f–king Steph Curry, but I do damn near everything else elite. It just took one organization to understand that and realize that.”

Warriors Notes: Payton, Wiseman, Looney, Poole

Gary Payton II had plenty of defensive role models growing up, starting with his Hall of Fame father, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. That helped him develop a mindset that he has carried with him to all his NBA stops, including the Warriors, where he has carved out a role as a disruptive presence off the bench.

Playing on a partially guaranteed contract, Payton has been an important contributor to Golden State’s 15-2 start. He brings a brashness to his defensive approach, along with a willingness to take on the opponent’s best scorer, priding himself in playing the old-school defense he watched as a child.

“The league already made it where guys don’t like to be touched,” he said. “So I’m just gon’ touch ’em. It’s that simple. As you can see … a lot of guys don’t like to be touched. Nobody touches them. Nobody’s in their face. They let them do what they want to do. I’m not about to let you sit here and size me up. No. I’m not about to let you do that. You gon’ go one way. If not, you gon’ get up off that ball. And it’s gon’ be hard for you to get it back. By the time you get it back, you gon’ be tired and you gon’ settle. Let’s go.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Whenever James Wiseman returns from meniscus surgery, Golden State will have one of the best center rotations in the league, contends Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. The position is currently being held down by Kevon Looney, Draymond Green and Nemanja Bjelica, and the addition of Wiseman will give the group a little of everything. “He brings a whole different look to our team from a size standpoint and from a vertical standpoint,” Looney said of Wiseman. “He’s able to score at a high level down in the post. He’s a natural scorer. So, he’ll give a different look with his athleticism, being able to block shots and play above the rim. I’m excited to see him get out there. We play two different styles.”
  • It’s easy for Looney to get overlooked with all the talent the Warriors have, but he has figured out how to complement his more famous teammates, observes Nekias Duncan of Basketball News.
  • Klay Thompson has been impressed with the progress of third-year guard Jordan Poole, who is currently filling his spot in the starting lineup, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “He’s playing way above where he was picked at 26,” Thompson said. “He’s looking like he should have been a lotto pick.”

Warriors Notes: Curry, Payton, Green, Kuminga

The Warriors and tied with the Jazz for the league’s best record at 7-1 and Stephen Curry isn’t the least bit surprised, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. “The record’s great,” Curry said. “It’s eight games in, a lot of season left, but the way that we’re succeeding and the way that we’re kind of opening up games, just putting good stretches of basketball together, I’m not surprised at all.” Golden State thumped New Orleans 126-85 on Friday.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • Gary Payton II, who has a partially guaranteed contract, has emerged as a rotation player, Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes. “He needs to play more,” coach Steve Kerr said. Valued for his defense, Payton has averaged 15.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG in the last two games. Payton earned a roster spot after a training camp battle with Avery Bradley and Curry says Payton has “found a home” with the Warriors, as Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic writes. Payton has a $350K guarantee on his veteran’s minimum deal.
  • In regard to the NBA’s investigation regarding the conduct of Suns owner Robert Sarver, Draymond Green feels there’s a double standard between executives and owners under scrutiny and players facing discipline, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. “I do wonder if I was getting investigated for something, would I still be able to be around the team? Would I still be able to freely come to the games? Would I still be able to freely come to practice?,” Green said. “I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question, because I’ve never been in a situation here where someone is getting investigated for something like that. But I do know what I think, and I’m not sure I’d be sitting here after finishing shootaround talking to you if I was being investigated.”
  • Lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga has been assigned to G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors, according to a team press release. Kuminga has made three brief appearances with Golden State, including a seven-minute stint on Friday. He’ll get more game experience with Santa Cruz. He had 16 points in 30 minutes against the G League Ignite earlier this week.
  • Andre Iguodala‘s return to the organization has given Kerr a level of comfort, Mark Medina of writes. “It’s like we lost our soul a little bit the last two years,” Kerr said. “Getting him back brings a level of stability, intelligence and basketball IQ.” Iguodala rejoined the team on a one-year deal.

Pacific Notes: Paul, Ayton, Bagley III, James, Curry, Payton II

Chris Paul gave Deandre Ayton advice after the Suns center failed to receive a max extension prior to the opening-night deadline, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports writes. Paul told Ayton if he has a strong season, he’ll give himself plenty of leverage as a restricted free agent next season.

“With D.A. and his situation, we talked about it,” Paul said. “He knows what he has to do. The goal for everybody is to see everyone getting paid. His situation is what it is, but it’s going to work out for him.”

Paul is also impressed by the vibe in the locker room as the Suns try to defend their conference title.

“Man, this is probably one of the best locker rooms that I’ve been in my whole career because we have young guys that are leaders and everybody leads in their own different ways,” he said.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings forward Marvin Bagley III could be an intriguing trade target for the Suns, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic speculates. Bagley, who has fallen out of favor in Sacramento, could man the power forward spot on the second unit and veterans like Paul and Jae Crowder could have a positive influence on him. He’d also have the incentive of delivering a strong season as he heads toward free agency, Rankin adds.
  • Lakers forward LeBron James was relieved to avoid a major injury after a collision during Sunday’s game, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. He felt some soreness in his right leg afterward but still hopes to play against San Antonio on Tuesday. He’s listed as probable, McMenamin adds in another tweet“Guy falls into my leg and there’s nothing you can do about it and I couldn’t get my leg out of there in time,” James said.
  • The Warriors seriously considered carrying 14 players and Stephen Curry is happy they chose to re-add Gary Payton II to the roster, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. The value of having Payton as the 15th man was displayed “one thousand percent,” according to Curry, after Payton contributed 10 points in 17 minutes on Sunday.

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Ayton, G. Payton, Wiseman

When the Kings decided to remove Marvin Bagley III from their rotation to open the season, agent Jeff Schwartz took the unusual step of issuing a statement to call out the team for its handling of his client. However, head coach Luke Walton doesn’t expect the public nature of the dispute between the team and agent to be a distraction for his players.

“Nope, not with our group,” Walton said, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “We’ve got a tight group. We’ve talked about it, whether it’s trades from last year or anything else, we don’t concern ourselves with outside issues. We’re a tight group. You can ask any of the players. They believe in what we’re doing and they’re working hard and we’re in a good place.”

The Kings used just nine players in their opening-night win over Portland on Wednesday, with Richaun Holmes and Tristan Thompson sharing the minutes at center, while Harrison Barnes and Maurice Harkless handled power forward duties.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Fourth-year center Deandre Ayton admitted he was “obviously” disappointed not to reach a rookie scale extension agreement with the Suns by Monday’s deadline, but said on Wednesday that playing on an expiring contract won’t bother him, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic relays. “I’m still trying to get us back to the Finals. I’ve still got to represent the team and myself as well. I’m just a competitor, man,” Ayton said. “Just like to compete to the best and every time I’m in between those lines, that’s what you’re going to see out of me. Nothing else.”
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic loved the Suns‘ four-year, $90MM deal with Mikal Bridges, but was baffled by the decision not to extend Ayton. While general manager James Jones said Phoenix would have done a three- or four-year max, three high-ranking executives in other organizations told Vecenie they would’ve been willing to offer the big man a fifth year.
  • Gary Payton II‘s new minimum-salary contract with the Warriors includes a $350K partial guarantee, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Payton, who was waived and re-signed within the last week, would have received a $659K partial guarantee if he had made the opening-night roster on his previous deal. By cutting him and then bringing him back, Golden State saved some money while still rewarding Payton for making the team.
  • Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle explores how the Warriors are adjusting their approach to James Wiseman‘s development in the center’s second NBA season.

Warriors Re-Sign Gary Payton II

Gary Payton II, who was waived by the Warriors over the weekend, has been re-signed, the team announced (via Twitter). It’s a non-guaranteed deal, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Golden State had a roster spot open after cutting Payton – along with guards Avery Bradley and Mychal Mulder and big man Jordan Bell – on Friday. The team now has a full roster, with 15 players on standard contracts and a pair on two-way deals.

Payton’s former contract would have paid him a $659K guarantee if he had remained on the roster for opening night. Every bit of salary is significant for the Warriors, who are well into tax territory, so bringing back Payton after he cleared waivers allows them to have him on the team and essentially pay him by the day.

The 28-year-old guard joined Golden State in April on a pair of two-way contracts, then was signed for the remainder of the season. He got into 10 games, averaging 2.5 points and 1.1 rebounds in 4.0 minutes per night. He is valued for his defensive skills and could be useful for the Warriors off the bench in certain situations.