Hornets Rumors: Elfrid Payton Joins Kemba Walker, Isaiah Thomas Among Guard Targets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 28, 2022

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The Charlotte Hornets widened their list of point guard targets to include Elfrid Payton, according to NBA insider Marc Stein.

Stein reported a reunion with Isaiah Thomas is under consideration, and the Hornets would be open to bringing back Kemba Walker if he reaches a buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

The Hornets led the NBA in assists (28.1) per game and still have the backcourt pair of LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. Still, they'd benefit from adding another playmaker who can run the offense when Ball is on the bench.

Rozier isn't a natural floor general, and Charlotte is tentatively slated to have James Bouknight or Cody Martin as the backup point guard.

Payton would address the Hornets' need.

The 28-year-old has been limited by his lack of range throughout his NBA career. He's a 28.7 percent three-point shooter over eight seasons and has never shot better than 32.6 percent in a single year.

Payton is a dependable facilitator, though. He averaged 8.7 assists to 4.1 turnovers per 100 possessions in 50 appearances with the Phoenix Suns in 2021-22, according to Basketball Reference.

The 6'3" guard is a better defender than Thomas and Walker as well, which might align better with what are presumably the Hornets' priorities heading into the 2022-23 season.

They finished 22nd in defensive rating (113.1), per NBA.com, and hired a defensive-minded head coach in Steve Clifford. It looks as though Charlotte wants to make clear strides on that end of the floor.

Payton wouldn't single-handedly raise the Hornets' ceiling, but he certainly checks a lot of boxes for the team.


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