Warriors Slammed for Letting Fan-Favorite Free Agents Walk

Otto Porter Jr Gary Payton II Steph Curry

Getty Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II help Stephen Curry up during an NBA Finals game between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics.

For a team that just won an NBA championship, the Golden State Warriors sure look different now than whan they secured the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The core remains intact and the club figures to have a better than average chance of repeating in 2022-23, of course, but some of the guys who left for new digs this summer had played pivotal roles in securing the title.

Chief among them: Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr.

Warriors brass had made no bones about the fact that they wanted both players back in the Bay again next season. In the end, though, the spiraling nature of the team’s cap/luxury tax situation prevented top decision-maker Bob Myers from biting the bullet on big-time paydays for the pair.

As a result, Porter finds himself in the Great White North while Payton has hopped aboard the Dame Train in Portland.

That’s a completely understandable rationale for allowing OPJ and GPII to leave, but one Bleacher Report scribe is still coming down hard on Golden State’s front office for letting it come to pass.

‘A Bad Alternative’

On Monday, B/R’s Andy Bailey dropped his list of the seven “Worst Decisions of the 2022 NBA Offseason.” We’re not talking about minor quibbles here; in the eyes of the longtime hoops scribe, these are the epic fails of the summer.

Coming in at No. 7 was Payton and Porter’s dual departure.

“Retaining Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr, especially with upcoming extensions or new contracts for Jordan Poole, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins on the horizon, would’ve been a very expensive decision,” wrote Bailey. “But losing two of the most important role players on a championship team is a bad alternative.”

He went on to note that Porter “is exactly the kind of three-and-D, multipositional forward that every team in the league is after” and namechecked Payton as “one of the game’s best perimeter defenders.”

It’s difficult to argue with Bailey’s assessment of the situation. Make no mistake, the Dubs did well to swap Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green in for their erstwhile bench stars — it’s expected that both signees will play important minutes next season. At the same time, though, that’s an 80 cents on the dollar kind of swap.

The latest Golden State Warriors news straight to your inbox! Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Warriors!

Payton & Porter Were Low-Key Stellar

It’s still hard to believe that Payton was began the year as a G League-bound training camp cut. Besides jumping off the TV screen and winning the hearts of Dub Nation like few ballers before him, the son of Hall of Famer Gary Payton put up some incredible numbers to boot.

Per 36 minutes, Payton averaged 14.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and a whopping 2.8 steals. He also shot an eye-popping 61.6% from the floor, a number aided by his unlikely success in the dunker spot at 6-foot-3. Meanwhile, his D-rating of 102.3 was the best mark teamwide among rotation regulars.

As for Porter, he was a plus/minus maven during postseason play. On a team that also has the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, et al. on its roster, the former No. 3 overall pick led the team in net rating at 12.4.

During the regular season, he was one of the best reservists in the Association, averaging 8.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per contest while posting shooting splits of 46-37-80.


Read More