The Cavaliers’ series of deadline-day trades dominated headlines last Thursday, overshadowing one of the most interesting moves of the day, as the Suns’ acquired Elfrid Payton from the Magic in exchange for a second-round pick.
With Payton’s restricted free agency around the corner, Orlando’s decision to send the 23-year-old to Phoenix signaled that the Magic didn’t view him as part of their future. Still, it was somewhat surprising to see the former 10th overall pick traded straight up for a lone second-round selection.
Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Payton shared several thoughts on how the trade went down, how he feels about being the newest member of the Suns, and what he thinks his future may hold. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but we’ll relay some of Payton’s most interesting answers in the space below…
On whether he felt disrespected by being traded for a mere second-round pick:
“A little bit. I think a lot of other people were more upset about it than I was, though. Others took it to heart more than I did, but that’s just because of the type of person I am. I’m pretty nonchalant and I don’t really get worked up, so it wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. I’ve always felt underrated and felt like I have to prove myself. I’m the kind of player who feels like you have to prove yourself every single night – no matter what you’ve done or who you are – because in this league everyone is thinking, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ So it wasn’t too big of a deal to me.”
On the trade in general:
“I’ve seen a lot of people say that it was a steal for Phoenix and stuff like that; I guess time will tell. I heard [the Magic] were offered a lot more than a second-round pick [from other teams], but they just didn’t decide to do one of those other trades… I don’t know all of the details, but I know they had offers from a team in the East and a different West Coast team other than Phoenix.”
On being surprised by the trade:
“About 30 to 45 minutes before the trade actually went down, my agent told me, ‘It seems like the talks are over and it looks like you’ll be staying in Orlando, at least until the end of the season.’ They had heard from [GM] John [Hammond] or [president of basketball operations] Jeff [Weltman] – I don’t know which one exactly, I’m not sure. But they were basically saying the talks were done and a trade was unlikely. Then, maybe seven or eight minutes before the deadline, the deal happened.”
On where his career will go from here:
“I feel like I still have a very high ceiling. Obviously, my shooting has gotten better this year, but I still feel like I can become a way better shooter. And there are still so many different things that I’m learning about the game and so many areas where I know I can improve. For example, I’m finding little tricks to get to the free-throw line more and get my team in the bonus. I’m also working hard to improve on the defensive end. I feel like my ceiling is still pretty high and I have a lot of room for growth.”
On whether he can see himself sticking with the Suns beyond this season:
“Yeah, I really could. Obviously, it’s not only up to me and I understand the business side of the NBA, but this is definitely somewhere I could see myself being for a long time.”