Warriors Expected to Make Final Decision on Breakout Guard’s Contract

Gary Payton II Dunk

Cole Burston/Getty Images Gary Payton II Dunk vs Raptors

Gary Payton II has had a breakout season for the Golden State Warriors. The journeyman guard has opened eyes with his defensive play and highlight reel dunks for the team.

But the contract he signed in October was not guaranteed–until January 7. Now, the Warriors are on the eve of that decision.

Last month, The Undefeated reported that the Warriors were expected to pick up the option. That certainly seems wise. Payton II signed a one year deal, worth $1,939,350, with $350,000 guaranteed according to Spotrac. The story also says that the Warriors have discussed possibly signing Payton II to a longer deal. With that decision looming don’t expect him to get comfortable.

“It’s either they’re going to keep me or they’re not,” Payton II said. “I can’t stop. I can’t let up, relax, or nothing. I just try to play every game like it’s my last and continue to do things to help this team win.”

With the path that Payton II has taken to the Warriors it’s not surprising that he has that mindset. Despite being the son of Hall of Famer Gary Payton, the road to the NBA anything but paved for Payton II.

Payton II Prior to the Warriors

Payton II, 29, started his college career at Salt Lake Community College before transferring to his father’s alma mater, Oregon State. He made an immediate for the Beavers, in 2015 and 2016 he was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the year, First Team All-Pac-12, and to the All-Pac-12 Defensive Team.

Payton II went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and then signed with the Houston Rockets, but was waived before the start of the season. From there he signed his first G-League contract with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. This started a trend of Payton II bouncing back and forth between the G-League and the NBA.

Payton II’s stints in the G-League were three stops with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers(2016-17, 2018-19, 2019 again), Wisconsin Herd(2017), South Bay Lakers(2018 and 2019), Capital City Go-Go(2019), and Raptors 905(2021). In the NBA prior to the Warriors he played with the Bucks(2017), Los Angeles Lakers(2017-18), Washington Wizards(2019, 2019-20).

In April 2021, after being named the G-League Defensive Player of the Year, he signed two ten-day contracts with the Warriors. On May 16 he was signed for the rest of the season and the next, but was then waived just before the start of the 2021-22 NBA Season. The Warriors then re-signed Payton II on October 19.

Value to the Warriors

Payton II is having by far the best season of his career so far. He’s averaging a career best 7.9 points in 16.6 minutes per game, while shooting 63.1% from the field and 40.6% from three. Beyond those numbers, Payton II also has the second best player efficiency rating on the Warriors at 20.95. According to Cleaning the Glass he ranks first in the NBA at his position in points per shot attempt and in steal percentage.

Payton II has shown value for the Warriors on both ends of the floor with his defensive intensity and his efficiency on the offensive end. His play has certainly caught the attention of Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

“He plays like a power forward in a point guard’s body,” Kerr told The Undefeated. “He’s very unique. He’s tough for guys to guard because if you’re used to guarding someone that size, you’re on the perimeter. You’re guarding pick-and-roll. That kind of stuff. With Gary, you’re having to block him out. You’re having to treat him like a big guy. And guards just aren’t doing that.

“He just finds gaps and seams and makes plays at both ends that are unique. He does it with anticipation and tremendous athleticism. And length, too. He has really long arms.”

With the value Payton II has brought to the Warriors it’s a near certainty the rest of his contract will be guaranteed on January 7. If they give him a longer deal will remain to be seen.

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