The Milwaukee Bucks have found their primary backup for superstar point guard Damian Lillard. Free-agent floor general Cam Payne has agreed to a one-year deal with the new-look Bucks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Payne spent the last four seasons with the Phoenix Suns, backing up Chris Paul since 2020-21. The Suns traded him to the San Antonio Spurs in mid-July, a salary dump that cleaned up Phoenix's books in wake of adding Bradley Beal. The Spurs waived the 29-year-old in mid-September, freeing him to sign with a contender while still accruing his $6.5 million salary for 2023-24.
Payne is Milwaukee's second point guard on the roster behind Lillard, who the Bucks acquired Wednesday in a blockbuster trade that sent Jrue Holiday, since re-routed to the Boston Celtics, to the Portland Trail Blazers. While he certainly doesn't address the Bucks' new need for point-of-attack defense, Payne's shooting ability and transition prowess make him a snug offensive fit for first-year coach Adrian Griffin.
It's hardly surprising Payne found his way to a first-rung title contender, by the way. The 2015 lottery pick expressed public disappointment after the trade to San Antonio, longing for another opportunity to win his first championship.
“I wish I was in Phoenix still,” Payne said in August on Instagram Live. “It is what it is man, they trying to win the [championship] and I respect it. I feel like they could have won the ‘chip with me though.”
The Bucks open training camp on October 5th.