The Golden State Warriors made one final move to bolster their roster before heading into the NBA’s postseason play-in tournament next week.
Anthony Slater and Shams Charania, of The Athletic, reported that the Warriors plan to sign Gary Payton II over the weekend after previously employing the defensive specialist on two 10-day contracts.
“Gary Payton II fits into the Warriors’ 15th and final roster spot,” Slater wrote in a tweet on Thursday, May 13. “Gives them perimeter bench option in the play-in/playoffs.”
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr also endorsed the potential signing last month.
“We love Gary. He’s played really well,” Kerr said. “He’s somebody who we’d feel like we’d love to have back.”
Payton II Likely to Sign With Warriors Through Next Season
The 28-year-old has played in a total of 71 NBA games in his career, including 10 with the Warriors during the nearly three weeks he has spent on the roster this season.
Payton II has only seen a handful of minutes in a Golden State jersey, but he has proven productive. He has averaged just 2.5 points per game, but most of his value resides on the other side of the basketball.
Channeling his best impersonation of his father, legendary defender Gary Payton who played his best basketball as a Seattle Supersonic, the point guard was named the G-League Defensive Player of the Year.
It makes sense for the Warriors to take a flyer on Payton II given his pedigree, previous NBA experience, 20-day stint in Golden State and the fact that the deal will leave the team flexible with contract options moving forward.
It remains unclear if Payton II will be available for the Warriors final game of the year after he signs his deal on the final day of the season — Sunday, May 16. That contest will be the same day on the road versus the Memphis Grizzlies, with whom the Warriors are currently jockeying for the 8th spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament.
With the Grizzlies just a half game behind Golden State and back-to-back home games coming up against the Sacramento Kings, the 8th and 9th seeds are likely to be determined by the outcome of Sunday’s matchup.
Payton II Adds Perimeter Depth to Injured Warriors Roster
When given the opportunity, Payton II has shown the chops to contribute meaningfully to an NBA franchise. In 29 games with the Washington Wizards last season, 17 of which he started, the point guard showed the ability to protect the ball while running an offense and contributing across the stat sheet, from the defensive end to the glass.
He may find such an opportunity for the Warriors this postseason, as the team continues to battle through injury.
Golden State fans have known all year long that their team would have to navigate the play-in tournament and/or the playoffs without All-Star guard Klay Thompson. Shooting guard Kelly Oubre (wrist) will be out at least another week or two, per ESPN, and shooting guard Damion Lee missed the team’s most recent outing against the Phoenix Suns under the league’s COVID-19 protocol.
The Warriors’ injury-depleted backcourt could create more minutes for the end of the bench come playoff time — minutes that Payton II will be eligible to fill.