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Warriors FA Gary Payton II, Trail Blazers Reportedly Finalizing 3-Year, $28M Contract

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2022

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers and Gary Payton II are finalizing a three-year, $28 million contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Payton is coming off a career-best year with the Warriors. He averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 61.6 percent of the floor, finding a niche as a lockdown perimeter defender and efficient shot-maker.

"He's hard to define, so the things that he does on the court have to be pretty special," Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams said, per James Herbert of CBS Sports. "And he's carved out this niche that works for him and is extremely helpful to a team."

Payton's Warriors breakout came after six seasons of trying and failing to latch onto an NBA rotation. The 29-year-old played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards, along with six different G League teams, before finally latching on in Golden State.

While Payton is never going to be much more than a mid-bench player, his defensive presence became vital for the Warriors last season. When Dillon Brooks took Payton out with a hard foul in the second round of the playoffs, his absence was instantly felt. Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole and a still-recovering Klay Thompson can carry the offensive load, but Payton became their most reliable defender among guards.

The Trail Blazers will likely rely upon Payton for short bursts of defensive presence on the perimeter and to hit the occasional shot.

It took a long time, but it appears Payton has finally found an NBA home.

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