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Elfrid Payton to get ‘every opportunity’ to compete for starting PG spot

KNicks

The New York Knicks decided to change course after whiffing on big-time free agent signings like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, opting for a more steady core of players, including point guard Elfrid Payton among the recent signings.

While he seemed like a curious pick for the roster, considering they yielded second-year point man Dennis Smith Jr. — Payton will be given “every opportunity” to compete for the starting job, according to Ian Begley of SNY.

The Knicks signed Payton to a two-year, $16 million deal with a team option for the second season, much like they did with all of their signings this offseason in hopes to maintain cap flexibility and potentially make a run at a big-time player again in 2020.

New York reportedly inquired about a trade for Payton last year before the trade deadline, but he was instead traded to the Phoenix Suns and consequently signed as a free agent by his hometown New Orleans Pelicans.

Payton was drafted by the Orlando Magic when current Knicks general manager Scott Perry was with the organization.

Depending of what role he secures during training camp and the preseason, Payton could either overtake Smith for the starting job, or be a direct backup under him, which would affect Frank Ntilikina’s development for a third straight season.

Smith was viewed as the largest concrete return for Kristaps Porzingis in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks, yet his job security will hinge in his effort and his ability to improve, which have been must-dos under head coach David Fizdale.