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Magic’s Aaron Gordon says Knicks’ Elfrid Payton is ‘tough as nails’

Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon had some sound words for former teammate Elfrid Payton, who will embark on a new venture with the New York Knicks this season. The two spent three and a half seasons together before the 6-foot-4 point guard was traded to the Phoenix Suns at the deadline, later spending the 2018-19 season with his hometown New Orleans Pelicans before inking a two-year deal with the Knicks.

Gordon is a big fan of Payton’s toughness:

“He’s tough. EP’s tough as nails so he’s not going to get rattled easily,” Gordon said of his former teammate at the NBPA/Five-Star Camp at Basketball City on Monday, according to SNY’s Ian Begley. “He plays hard every day. HE’s thorough. He was born and raised like that.”

Payton will have a team option for the second year and every potential opportunity to win the starting point guard job this season, which will have him face off against Dennis Smith Jr.

The Louisiana native also should have a positive impact on the Knicks’ young locker room, like many of the other pieces the franchise signed this offseason:

“EP is a helluva player, helluva ballplayer. But even better person. So you guys got an even better person than he is a ballplayer, and that’s saying a lot,” Gordon said. “Because he’s a great ballplayer. He can get better and better. He’s going to be in this league for a long time.”

Payton is still a suspect shooter, but boasts a solid all-around game with his passing, rebounding and defense at the point guard position. Even if he doesn’t win the starting spot, he should be in for decent minutes under coach David Fizdale.