Gary Payton II

Western Rumors: Mitchell, Payton II, Lillard, Bryant

Rudy Gobert‘s impending trade to Minnesota, in which Utah will receive multiple unprotected first-round picks, and a separate trade sending Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn for another first-round pick, could be seen as an indication that the Jazz might be rebuilding.

In an appearance on NBA Today, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said (video link from Talkin’ NBA) the league is preparing for Jazz star Donovan Mitchell to request a trade, noting that O’Neale was one of Mitchell’s closest friends on the team.

If you’re Donovan Mitchell and you see two trades like this that are designed to save more than $100MM and get first-round draft picks, that doesn’t inspire confidence,” Windhorst said. “And talking to league executives who saw some of this coming, they think it would be abnormal for Donovan to not want out at this point.

Now, they obviously have the option to use these assets to trade something to put around Donovan, and that may be what they’re trying to sell him on. But right now, there are teams out there that are revving up the possibility of calling Utah and seeing what it’s going to take to get Donovan Mitchell, because they’re not going to be done. This is not a team that needs Mike Conley. This is not a team that needs Bojan Bogdanovic. This is not a team that needs Rudy Gay. All of these guys who have long-term money who have value to other places, I would suspect, are going to potentially be on the trade market and the Jazz are going to get calls.”

When the Gobert news broke, both ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tony Jones of The Athletic said the Jazz planned to retool the roster around Mitchell rather than move him.

However, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune hears (Twitter links) that it’s not a lock that the Jazz will keep Mitchell, saying there’s been some “push back” on those reports. The Jazz plan to keep their options open for all possibilities, according to Larsen, who notes that Mitchell could be a fallback option for the Heat if they’re unable to land Kevin Durant.

Here are a few more rumors from the Western Conference:

  • A source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green pitched Gary Payton II on sticking with the Warriors, but Golden State’s reported offer — two years for about taxpayer mid-level exception money — was substantially less than he received from the Trail Blazers (three years, $28MM). Losing Payton will surely sting for the Warriors, as he was a fan favorite and an excellent defender, Amick observes.
  • As Amick relays, it was assumed that Damian Lillard would be a lock to sign a two-year, super-max extension shortly after free agency opened, which has yet to transpire. The deadline won’t pass until the start of the regular season, but Lillard may still needs some convincing to sign the deal, a source tells Amick, who says the star guard wanted the Blazers to have a strong offseason to prove they could build a contender around him. According to Amick, adding Payton will surely help matters. Not only does the team need perimeter defense, which Payton provides, but there are a couple other ties between the two players. Payton’s father, Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton, has been a mentor to Lillard, and all three are represented by agent Aaron Goodwin.
  • Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times hears (via Twitter) from sources that the Lakers are very interested in a reunion with center Thomas Bryant, who is an unrestricted free agent. However, the Lakers can only offer a veteran minimum deal, so Bryant is in search of a better offer. The Raptors are also pursuing Bryant, per Turner.

Trail Blazers, Gary Payton II Finalizing Three-Year Deal

The Trail Blazers are finalizing a three-year contract agreement with free agent guard Gary Payton II, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the deal is expected to be worth $28MM. It will include a player option and incentives, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report first reported that Portland was in hot pursuit of Payton with a deal believed to be worth in the range of $8MM annually. The price tag reported by Charania comes in a little higher than that, as the Blazers have apparently committed to using most of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign the 29-year-old.

Payton, who has never signed an NBA contract worth more than the minimum salary, caught on as the Warriors’ 15th man last fall, then secured a regular spot in the rotation, carving out a niche as a defensive stopper.

While most of Payton’s value stems from his ability to slow down perimeter scorers, he had his best offensive season in 2021/22 too, chipping in 7.1 PPG in just 17.6 MPG and shooting an impressive 61.6% from the floor. He played a key role in the Warriors’ championship run, returning from a fractured elbow in the NBA Finals to defend the likes of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart.

As Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets, Golden State wanted to bring back Payton but was unwilling to match Portland’s offer, which would have cost the Warriors exponentially more due to the subsequent luxury tax penalties.

Payton is on track to join a Portland team that has made it a priority this offseason to upgrade its defense and struck a deal last week to acquire forward Jerami Grant from Detroit. The Blazers were also linked earlier today to versatile free agent wing Bruce Brown, but he may be out of their price range now that they’re using their MLE on Payton.

Trail Blazers Eyeing Gary Payton II, Bruce Brown

The Trail Blazers are pursuing free agent guard Gary Payton II with an offer in the range of $8MM, but there’s still mutual interested in a return to the Warriors, sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Fischer adds that the Blazers are also eyeing Bruce Brown, another free agent guard, who has been with the Nets the last couple of seasons.

After bouncing between the G League and the NBA in his first five seasons and never finding a consistent home or role, Payton had a terrific season for the Warriors in 2021/22, appearing in 71 regular season games (16 starts) while averaging 7.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals on .616/.358/.603 shooting. Though he averaged only 17.6 minutes per night, his impact was clear when he had opportunities, showcasing jaw-dropping athleticism, a knack for the ball, hustle, and excellent defense.

The 29-year-old played a key role during Golden State’s championship run, averaging 7.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals in five Finals contests (18.5 minutes per night) after returning from a fractured left elbow. In his first six playoff games (18 minutes) prior to the injury, he averaged 7.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1 steal on .727/.750/.667 shooting.

Like Payton, Brown is one of the better perimeter defenders in the league, and the Nets trading for Royce O’Neale was viewed as an indication that Brown was unlikely to return to Brooklyn. In 71 regular season games (24.6 minutes) last season, Brown averaged 9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals on .506/.404/.758 shooting.

Despite being swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, Brown was arguably Brooklyn’s most consistent postseason performer, averaging 14 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals on .568/.429/.800 shooting.

Anthony Slater and Sam Amick of The Athletic report that both Kevon Looney and Payton are searching for more money than the Warriors are willing to offer, thus increasing the chances that Payton, in particular, bolts in free agency. Both players want to return to Golden State, but at the right price, which is where the separation currently exists, according to The Athletic’s duo.

The chance of a reunion between Otto Porter and the Warriors is still possible, per Slater and Amick, who say that Porter is contemplating whether to return on a minimum deal or take a larger offer elsewhere.

Western Free Agent Rumors: Monk, Warriors, Walker, Dragic, House

The Lakers are hoping to re-sign Malik Monk with their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that may not be enough to keep the 24-year-old guard, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Monk indicated this week that he might accept less money to stay in L.A., but sources tell Fischer that he plans to explore his value on the open market. The Lakers are limited to an offer of around $6.4MM under the MLE.

Monk developed into a valuable scoring threat in his first year with the team, averaging 13.8 points in 76 games while shooting 47.3% from the field and 39.1% on three-pointers.

There’s more free agent news from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors are likely to keep center Kevon Looney, Fischer states in the same piece, with other teams expecting him to get a multi-year contract that averages about $10MM per season. Golden State would like to re-sign Gary Payton II, but he could be tempted to leave for a full mid-level offer. Otto Porter may not return, as sources tell Fischer that he might get several offers at the taxpayer MLE.
  • The Spurs aren’t expected to keep Lonnie Walker, Fischer adds. San Antonio must decide by today whether to extend a $6.3MM qualifying offer to the 23-year-old guard.
  • Jalen Brunson‘s expected exit from Dallas increases the likelihood that veteran guard Goran Dragic will emerge as a target for the Mavericks, Marc Stein writes in his latest column for Substack.
  • The Kings may have interest in signing forward Danuel House, tweets Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

Clippers, Knicks Have Discussed Possible Nerlens Noel Trade

The Clippers and Knicks have engaged in “exploratory” discussions about a possible trade involving center Nerlens Noel, league sources Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The Knicks are attempting to clear the cap room necessary to make a serious run at free agent point guard Jalen Brunson and have a surplus of future draft picks to offer a team willing to take on Noel’s contract, which will pay him $9.24MM in 2022/23. Moving Noel would increase their projected cap room to approximately $25MM.

The Clippers, meanwhile, have a trade exception big enough to take on Noel’s contract without sending out any salary and may view him as a solid rotation option at center, especially if free agent big man Isaiah Hartenstein doesn’t remain in Los Angeles.

The Clippers already project to be a taxpayer and would increase their luxury tax bill exponentially by adding another $9MM+ contract to their books, but Steve Ballmer is one of the richest owners in sports, so that may not be a pressing concern. The opportunity to help an Eastern Conference club pry away a key free agent from a Western rival may also provide some extra incentive as the Clippers mull a potential deal.

Here’s more from Scotto on free agency and the trade market:

  • Four NBA executives who spoke to Scotto believe that Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons could sign a contract in the four-year, $80MM range, perhaps with incentives that could further increase its value.
  • Based on conversations with six league executives, Scotto writes that Warriors center Kevon Looney could command upwards of $9MM per year as a free agent this summer, while guard Gary Payton II could earn $6-7MM annually. Looney is reportedly considered likely to re-sign with Golden State.
  • On draft night, the Pistons landed center Jalen Duren with the No. 13 pick after agreeing to a deal involving New York and Charlotte. If they hadn’t been able to reach an agreement for the No. 13 pick and Duren slipped to No. 14, the Pistons had discussed offering multiple picks, including a future first-rounder, to the Cavaliers, says Scotto. It’s unclear if Cleveland would’ve had any interest in such an offer.

Western Notes: Looney, Payton, Wolves, Mavs’ Targets, Rockets

The Warriors have made re-signed center Kevon Looney their top free agent priority and are expected to meet with his agent, Todd Ramasar, in the early hours of free agency, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Gary Payton II profiles as the Warriors’ second-most important priority but he’ll have other suitors, with the Mavericks expected to be among them, per Slater. Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damion Lee are the players most vulnerable to losing their roster spots, Slater adds.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Timberwolves wound up with two first-round draft picks but it won’t alter their plans for free agency, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. GM Tim Connelly said they’ll be looking for players who can make an immediate impact. “I don’t think it has a huge impact,” Connelly said. “Again, the draft is for the next two, three, four, five, six, seven years.”
  • While re-signing Jalen Brunson looms as their top free agent priority, the Mavericks could go shopping for other free agents. Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News looks at some other potential targets, including Gary Harris, Otto Porter Jr. and Goran Dragic.
  • By reaching a buyout agreement with John Wall, the Rockets now have 18 players on the roster, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. They’re $30MM below the luxury tax threshold, with Eric Gordon — a prime trade candidate — as the lone player earning more than $10MM.

Warriors Notes: No. 28 Pick, Looney, Payton, Wiseman, Iguodala, More

Speaking today to reporters, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said that money won’t be the deciding factor as the team weighs whether to use or trade the No. 28 overall pick, as Kendra Andrews of ESPN relays (via Twitter).

“It’ll be if it makes sense,” Myers said of a possible trade.

Besides the financial aspect, the Warriors will have to consider whether there’s a player they like at No. 28 enough to add another rookie to a young core that already includes several recent lottery picks.

According to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, the Celtics, Knicks, and Magic are among the teams that have expressed interest in the No. 28 pick.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Asked about the Warriors’ key free agents, starting with Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II, Myers said, “Our hope and our goal is to bring all of those guys back” (Twitter link via Mark Medina of NBA.com). However, he added that Golden State will be mindful of the marketplace, suggesting there may be a price point the team won’t exceed. Myers also spoke at length about the ownership’s willingness to pay an ever-growing tax bill as long as the Warriors remain a title contender (video link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic).
  • According to Myers, the Warriors would like to extend Andrew Wiggins‘ and Jordan Poole‘s contracts this offseason, but those talks may not be on the front burner to start the summer, since the deadline for a Poole extension isn’t until October, and Wiggins could be extended during the season (Twitter link via Andrews).
  • The Warriors aren’t giving head coach Steve Kerr a mandate to play youngsters James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody a certain amount next season. “If there are guys playing better, we’ll play those guys,” Myers said (Twitter link via Medina).
  • Wiseman hasn’t experienced any recent setbacks and the plan remains for him to play in either the California Classic or Las Vegas Summer League in July, Myers said today (Twitter link via Medina). That plan was reported earlier this month.
  • Neither Myers nor Kerr is certain whether or not Andre Iguodala will retire this summer, tweets Slater. “It’s a really big decision for him,” Kerr said. “If he decides to come back, we’d be thrilled.”

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Wiggins, Curry, GPII

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson is trying to focus on the task at hand: winning his fourth NBA title. Three years removed from his torn ACL, and nearly two years removed from his torn Achilles, the five-time Golden State All-Star is prioritizing the present, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. The Warriors currently hold a 3-2 advantage against the Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals, which will resume Thursday.

“I never had such a severe injury, so I didn’t think it was that serious,” Thompson said of the ACL tear. “I thought I might have sprained something in my knee.” Thompson also noted that he generally does not dwell on the injury now: “I just want to frigging win.”

Across 21 games during this postseason run, Thompson is averaging 19.4 PPG on .440/.391/.867 shooting splits, along with 3.9 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.0 SPG. Though he has not consistently looked like the perimeter defender he was in his prime, he has had standout moments of efficacy on that end while defending Boston guard Jaylen Brown.

There’s more out of Golden State:

  • Following a career night in Game 5, the Warriors are commending the fit of small forward Andrew Wiggins, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Wiggins scored 26 points while shooting 12-of-23 from the floor, pulled down 13 boards, and chipped in two assists, two steals and a block in a pivotal 104-94 Game 5 win. “We knew we needed his athleticism and defense and his versatility,” Golden State head coach Steve Kerr raved. “We had no idea that he would make this kind of contribution.” All-Star teammate Draymond Green also focused on how Wiggins, as a big forward with two-way ability and excellent athleticism as a finisher, found a way to slot in with the rest of the roster. “We looked at the trade [to acquire Wiggins in 2020 from the Timberwolves] like that is a guy who can fit next to a healthy group absolutely well,” Green said. “He’s continued to show that. He’s continued to get better. He’s taken on every challenge that we have thrown in front of him.”
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic reflects that Wiggins seems to be finally realizing his promise in the biggest possible moment for his club.
  • Warriors All-NBA point guard Stephen Curry had a low-scoring game by his lofty standards during the team’s Game 5 win over the Celtics, though he still was a key element of the offense in drawing plenty of defensive attention away from his teammates. Curry scored 16 points on 7-of-22 shooting form the floor, including a stunning 0-for-9 from deep. This marked the first time in 233 straight contests that he failed to connect from deep. Accordingly, Golden State anticipates that Curry will respond in a big way when the battle is joined again on Thursday for Game 6, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic“He’s going to be livid going into Game 6, and that’s exactly what we need,” Draymond Green said.
  • Coming off his best performance in the Finals thus far, Warriors reserve guard Gary Payton II is looking to build on that with some championship hardware, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape. In 26 minutes of action during Game 5, Payton tied a personal career-best in postseason points scored, notching 15 points while converting 6-of-8 from the floor. He also pulled down five rebounds and picked off three steals. After going undrafted out of Oregon State in 2016, Payton played for five NBAGL clubs and bounced around limited stints with the Bucks, Lakers, Wizards, and Warriors. This season, after some uncertainty about his roster status, the 2022 free agent eventually blossomed into a permanent part of the Golden State rotation.

Warriors Notes: Payton, Curry, Thompson, Assistant Coaches

Gary Payton II has become a fan favorite in his first full season with the Warriors, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Some of the affection stems from his Oakland roots and some can be explained by the years-long struggle he had to make the league before earning a roster spot with Golden State.

Payton received a thunderous ovation when he entered Sunday’s Game 2, playing for the first time since fracturing his left elbow in the second-round series against Memphis. He consistently provides energy off the bench and fans have responded, putting him in the top five among team jersey sales since the playoffs began.

“So hard to make this league in general,” Stephen Curry said, “but even harder (to be an) NBA player’s son trying to follow in the dad’s footsteps. It’s a different challenge and journey for him coming out of college, trying to find his way, G League, training camp offers, bouncing around the league, all over the place, then finally finding a home. … I think he was on two-way last year. He was available but not really. Then knowing he could really help us this year, he’s actually proven to be an amazing difference-maker. I think fans really resonate with that.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Curry is quickly shedding his reputation as a poor defender, according to Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle, adding that opponents are finding it harder to attack him on pick-and-rolls. “Teams used to try to call Steph into every action, and just try to pick on him, but that doesn’t work anymore,” Draymond Green said. “He’s able to hold his ground, so you’re not able to bump him off his spot, and that’s been huge for us. I’m not shocked he’s playing that type of defense.”
  • Klay Thompson has been watching online videos of his past highlights in an effort to break out of his shooting slump, Letourneau states in a mailbag column. Thompson shot just 4-of-19 in Game 2 and was 1-of-8 from three-point range. Letourneau expects coach Steve Kerr to run some early pick-and-roll action for Thompson tonight, noting that he was the team’s most efficient scorer from that set this season.
  • Former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and assistant David Fizdale could be candidates to join Kerr’s staff next season, Letourneau adds in the same piece. The Warriors are already losing Mike Brown to Sacramento, and Kenny Atkinson is one of the finalists to be the next head coach in Charlotte.
  • Payton, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr., who were all listed as questionable, will be able to play tonight, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Warriors Notes: Wiggins, Iguodala, GPII, Klay

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has been an integral player during the club’s 2022 NBA Finals run, prompting Zach Lowe of ESPN to take a deep dive revisiting Golden State’s acquisition of the 27-year-old – who made his first All-Star team this year – and exploring what retaining Wiggins could cost the club going forward.

After former Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant decided to join the Nets during the 2019 offseason, Golden State team president Bob Myers convinced Durant and Brooklyn to agree to a double sign-and-trade that would send out the two-time Finals MVP and a future Warriors draft pick in exchange for 2019 All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell. Golden State then sent Russell to the Timberwolves at the 2020 trade deadline. In the deal, the Warriors received Wiggins and a top-three protected first-round draft pick, which eventually was used to select rookie small forward Jonathan Kuminga in 2021.

Wiggins has been a solid two-way player in the postseason, and Lowe notes that his defense on Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic and now Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum has been instrumental for Golden State. It took Wiggins some time to fit into the Warriors’ switch-heavy offensive scheme and get comfortable with more off-ball movement than he was used to while with Minnesota.

“In this system, you have to move a lot,” Wiggins said. “A lot of the positions are almost interchangeable.”

After this season, Wiggins has one year left and $33.6MM on the hefty rookie scale contract extension he signed with the Timberwolves. Lowe notes that breakout Warriors guard Jordan Poole is eligible for a contract extension this season. Veterans Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will become unrestricted free agents in 2024, but Green has a player option for the 2023/24 season. The team will also have to make determinations on free agent role players Gary Payton II and starting center Kevon Looney this summer. Lowe wonders if the team will ultimately decide to pick between Wiggins and Poole soon, or between Wiggins and the starrier veterans Thompson and Green later. The club payroll, including salary and luxury tax penalties, could get as high as $475MM if everyone is retained, Lowe notes.

There’s more out of San Francisco:

  • Warriors veteran forward Andre Iguodala, who sat during the team’s 107-88 Game 2 victory due to right knee swelling, remains questionable for Game 3 on Wednesday with left knee soreness, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The 38-year-old, who was the 2015 Finals MVP for the Warriors, scored seven points and dished out three assists across 12 minutes of action in Game 1.
  • Prior to the start of his eventful 2021/22 season with the Warriors, reserve guard Gary Payton II contemplated joining the team as a video coordinator, per Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter video link). “They were telling me my chances were kind of low of making the team… they had a video coordinating job open, and I was trying to… ask for an interview for that job just to stay around this team,” Payton told Andrews. “They cut me and next step was to go back to the [G League] or stay here and be close to the team… Next thing you know I get a call saying, ‘You’re the 15th man.'” Payton, currently on a one-year, $1.9MM contract with Golden State, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and will certainly not have to worry about a contingency video coordinator gig in the immediate future. The 29-year-old journeyman finally emerged as a full-time rotation player during his second season with Golden State, averaging 17.6 MPG across 71 contests. His modest counting stats of 7.1 PPG, 3.5 APG and 1.4 SPG belie his on-court impact — he has established himself as one of the team’s top wing defenders.
  • Warriors wing Klay Thompson has scored just 26 points on 10-of-33 shooting from the field across his first two NBA Finals games against the Celtics, with swingman Jaylen Brown serving as his main defender. Anthony Slater of The Athletic wonders how much of Thompson’s shooting woes are the result of the Celtics’ excellent perimeter defense, and how much is merely a product of a shooting slump.