Former Warriors Guard Sounds Off on Why He Left Golden State

Gary Payton II, formerly of the Golden State Warriors.

Getty Gary Payton II, formerly of the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors are in a great spot. Winners of four of the last eight NBA titles, they are coming off of a championship season and have assembled one of the most impressive young cores in the league. Golden State has it all.

Still, three key pieces of their championship team from last year — Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, and Gary Payton II — left in free agency this summer. The Warriors replaced their production in the form of Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green, but the 2021-22 title team is no longer.

During a August 17 interview on the “Truth & Basketball” podcast, Payton spoke about why he left the Warriors. He said he would have loved to return but couldn’t turn down the amount of money the Portland Trail Blazers offered him.

“For the money. I had to take the money,” he told host George Karl, the former NBA coach. “I had to take the money, Coach. If it didn’t work out, I would’ve loved to go back to Golden State. But, you know, it just didn’t work out. Just the timing and everything, it’s just a business deal. And so, I just had to take the money.”

Does The G-League Do What It's Supposed To? GPII and George Karl talk Rings, Coaches, and Curry!After a long and winding road, Gary Payton II reached the top of the NBA mountain, winning a championship as a key member of the Golden State Warriors in June.  In this Episode of Truth and Basketball, GPII chops it up with his 30 year friend and mentor, Coach George Karl, about growing up in…2022-08-17T11:15:01Z

Payton carved out a unique role in Golden State as a defensive anchor and an elite cutter. And though the Warriors would have liked to keep him around, the Warriors simply couldn’t bring Payton back, according to team owner Joe Lacob.

Team owner Joe Lacob spoke to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic earlier this offseason about why .

Lacob: ‘Not Something We Could Really Entertain’

The Warriors signed Payton last season on a league minimum deal. But by season’s end, he had outplayed his contract and was looking at bigger money in free agency.

“No surprise to us that if these guys got … like Gary Payton had a good year and if he got a big offer, it was going to be very unlikely we were going to re-sign him, no matter how much we love him,” Lacob told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami during the August 18 episode of his “The TK Show” podcast. “And we did like him a lot.

Lacob said Payton got even more money than they thought he would.

“He got a much bigger offer, in fact, than we thought he would get. Way beyond,” Lacob said. “And I’m not saying he’s not worth it or is worth it. But it is a lot. And it’s not something we really could entertain doing.”

Now, with his new team, Payton has been considered a sleeper to win a major award.

Payton Considered Sleeper for NBA Award

According to FanDuel, Payton has +16,000 odds to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report wrote in August 16 story that Payton should be considered a “sleeper bet” to win it.

“The NBA waited from 1996 until 2022 for a guard (Marcus Smart) to follow in the footsteps of Gary Payton and bring home the Defensive Player of the Year award,” Buckley wrote. “The wait won’t be nearly as long for the next one if Payton’s son, Gary Payton II, has anything to say about it.”

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