LOS ANGELES — Gary Payton II was a member of the Golden State Warriors last Friday, packed up his belongings that weekend after being waived, and was back with the team Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“So we were in the midst of all that, and then this happened, so it worked it out pretty (well),” Payton said Tuesday from the floor of Staples Center, before the Warriors opened the regular season against the Lakers.
Payton said in between being a victim of preseason roster cutdown and his timely reunion that he was working toward a deal with the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz. Instead, he was available — though limited, after offseason hernia surgery — at the end of Golden State’s bench Tuesday.
“I think he’s a great fit. He gives us the backcourt defender that the roster needs,” coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday after shootaround. “He’s a great teammate. A great cutter. A great leader from the backend. I think Gary will be really good for our young players, but also really good for our roster on nights where we need it.”
Payton’s first introduction to the Warriors came on consecutive 10-day contracts two seasons ago. Despite earning a spot on an opening-night NBA roster, Payton said he doesn’t feel any additional job security.
“I’ve learned my whole career to stay ready,” Payton said.
Payton was battling with guards Avery Bradley, Mychal Mulder and forward Jordan Bell for the 15th and final spot on the regular-season roster, but he was set to be guaranteed a chunk of the two-year, $1.98 million contract he signed before last season, per Spotrac. All four players were waived Friday.
By signing Payton to a new deal, the Warriors gain more flexibility in their precarious — and expensive — luxury tax situation. The Warriors did not provide specifics of the new deal, per team policy.
The 28-year-old combo guard should provide a defensive spark off the bench but also showed off his cutting ability on the offensive end with a trio of dunks in his only action of the preseason.
Bradley, Payton’s partner in the backcourt battle, was scooped up on waivers by the Lakers, whom he played for last season and the opponent which Golden State opens the season against Tuesday night.
Kerr hinted at a possible reunion with Payton on Monday, when he mentioned the guard’s name as an option off the bench, despite having been waived a few days prior.
The Warriors were searching for a ball-hawking backup to Curry who wasn’t a hindrance on offense. h2 data-curated-ids="" data-relation-type="automatic-primary-section"">
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Kerr and the coaching staff came away impressed with Payton, despite only appearing in one preseason game because of offseason hernia surgery. Bradley, ultimately, didn’t shoot it well enough early in camp, Kerr said.
Kerr and general manager Bob Myers said the Warriors were constrained by their status as the league’s highest-salaried team already. Curry, who’s entering his age 34 season and desperate to extend his championship window, publicly petitioned Warriors brass to fill the final spot.
Bradley appeared to have the inside track on the role as one of the first players off the bench in the Warriors’ first two preseason games. Payton, however, remained confident he’d proven himself in previous stints with Golden State.
“I put in the time last year and all summer here,” he said. “Clearly I wanted to be here, and it worked out perfectly.”
Source : https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/10/19/warriors-round-out-roster-with-familiar-face/732