Gary Payton II wasn't gone from the Bay long. Just more than eight months after letting him walk to the Portland Trail Blazers in free agency, the Golden State Warriors have re-acquired Payton at the trade deadline in exchange for five second-round picks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Golden State agreed to send James Wiseman to the Detroit Pistons in a three-team trade with the Atlanta Hawks shortly before bringing back Payton, acquiring those five second-rounders and Kevin Knox in the process. The Warriors ultimately re-routed Knox to Portland, officially making their re-acquisition of Payton and trade of Wiseman a four-team deal involving the Blazers, Pistons and Hawks.

Payton signed a three-year, $26.1 million contract with Portland in the early stages of free agency last July. Golden State had the chance to match that number but ultimately decided against it, wary of adding tens of millions to a massive luxury tax bill while clearing the way for Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody to get more playing time in 2022-23. The Dubs did well to find a suitable replacement for Payton last summer, too, signing Donte DiVincenzo with the taxpayer's mid-level exception.

Sidelined the first two-and-a-half months of the season due to lingering discomfort from core muscle surgery, Payton played in 15 games with the Blazers, averaging 4.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals in just 17 minutes per game. He shot 9-of-17 from three in Portland, encouraging accuracy despite typically low volume after last season's career-best mark on triples, but racked up a huge 21.9% turnover rate, unable to get fully comfortable in Chauncey Billups' offensive scheme.

That shouldn't be a problem for Payton with the Warriors, who got the best out of him in 2021-22 by utilizing him as a screener, short-roll playmaker and off-ball finisher from the corners and dunker spots. He stands to make an even bigger impact defensively, giving Golden State stellar point-of-attack defender who doubles as an ultra-disruptive helper. Payton can guard up to four positions at a near-elite level, and fights like hell on the defensive glass, too.

For all intents and purposes, the Warriors traded Wiseman for Payton on deadline day, saving against the luxury tax—about $7 million this season and roughly $30 million in 2023-24—while adding a much-needed rotation wing for a young player who wasn't in their plans.

Does Payton's addition come close to matching the Phoenix Suns' of Kevin Durant or even the Los Angeles Lakers' of D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt? No way. But margins always matter at the highest levels of the league, and Payton's return gives Steve Kerr another veteran he can count on come the postseason and further lineup flexibility, significant upgrades for a team Golden State that needed them more than ever amid the Western Conference arms race.