Gary Payton II, Portland Trail Blazers Agree $28M Deal


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The first day that NBA teams could start negotiating free agents came and went almost Thursday, when the Portland Trail Blazers reportedly only made one deal.

But later Thursday night, hours after agreeing to a contract extension with Anfernee Simons, the Blazers agreed to a three-year deal with security guard Gary Payton II, which will pay him $28 million, a source confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania was the first to report the news.

Payton, 29, the son of Oregon State legend Gary Payton, adds depth and versatility in backcourt as a defender. Payton II, who also played at Oregon State, averaged 7.1 points in 17.6 minutes per game for the Warriors during their run to the NBA title.

The Blazers predictably signed a four-year, $100 million contract extension shortly after things broke in the league at 3 p.m. They even wait for a team to sign the 2018 first-round pick on an offer sheet.

After that, all was quiet on the Blazers front until news broke about Payton.

The 6ft 3 Payton is a great track record. He had a stellar career with the Beavers but was not called up in 2016. He played with Houston in the summer league that year and appeared in six preseason games before being released in October 2016. He then appeared in 18 regular season games over two seasons with Milwaukee (2016–2018) before playing 11 games with the Los Angeles Lakers (2017–18) and then 32 over two seasons with Washington (2018–2020). He came into contact with Golden State two seasons ago and saw action in 10 games.

Last season, Payton II’s career took off and he became a valuable player off the bench for the Warriors. During the NBA Finals against Boston, Payton averaged 7.0 points and 3.2 rebounds off the bench.

The Blazers starting field will consist of Simons and Damian Lillard. Payton is versatile enough and defensive enough to see time as a point guard, shooting guard, and small forward.

Payton II had a 102.3 defensive rating last season and 101.1 preseason.

Gary Payton II

Gary Payton II (left) and his father Gary Patyon celebrate after Golden State won the 2022 NBA Championship. (NBA)

Adding another guard, especially the 6-3 line, is a bit confusing. The Blazers also have the 6-5 Josh Hart on the roster. He plays shooting guard and small forward. The 6-5 Nassir Little will also be in the small forward. Then there’s 6-6 rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe, who was picked #7 in last week’s NBA draft.

What the Blazers don’t have is a great many proven players over 6-6. Portland completed a trade that puts Jerami Grant ahead 6-8. But other than Nurkic, who has yet to be signed, the Blazers have no one above 6-6 who appears to be in the regular rotation.

Power forward Justise Winslow is 6-6. Forward/center Trendon Watford, who will take part in the Summer League, is 6-9 and not suspended to be in regular rotation in the regular season.

The Blazers appear to have used the midlevel exception to sign Payton. That leaves the biannual exception to sign more size. Or a trade could be on the horizon.

Whatever the case, as of now, the regular rotation could certainly use some extra size and length.

The next big step for the Blazers is likely to be the signing of Nurkic. The Blazers have not been linked to any other center in the free agent market, not even Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton, who is very likely to be traded in the coming days.

Nurkic had one of his best seasons with the Blazers before plantar fasciitis crippled him after the All-Star hiatus. According to team sources, Nurkic’s return has been the plan since the February trade deadline came and went, with him still on the list.

— Aaron Fentress | [email protected] | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook).

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