Gary Payton II gets brutally honest about future with Warriors amid contract uncertainty
Gary Payton II is playing some of the best basketball of his career right now with the Golden State Warriors. He’s by no means a superstar but the 6-foot-3 swingman has played a key role off the bench for the league-best Dubs early in the season.
At this point, however, Payton is still in a non-guaranteed deal with the Warriors. He’s jumped around from team to team for virtually his entire NBA career and right now, his future in Golden State is still surrounded with uncertainty.
Payton himself acknowledged his current dilemma and revealed just how much he wants to remain with the Warriors for the long-term:
“Yeah, January 10 is my cutoff date [to be guaranteed for the rest of the season],” Payton told Jake Fisher of Bleacher Report. “Just continuing to do everything I can to lock that date in and show that I can hold my own in this league and I can help a team win, and hopefully I can be here for multiple-plus years.”
Payton has played in all but one of the Warriors’ first 20 games of the season. The 28-year-old, who incidentally will turn 29 on December 1st (Happy Birthday!), is averaging 6.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 14.1 minutes per game. His numbers may not be eye-popping, but you also have to factor in the intangibles Payton brings for his team.
Payton fully appreciates the fact that he is no star. However, he is also well aware of his skill set and how it can benefit the Warriors:
“Golden State understands what I bring to the table, my defensive skills, my off-ball cutting, screening, being able to play the dunker and just take open shots when they present themselves,” he said. “There are a lot of guys, like Draymond, that can do a lot of different things and help win games.
“Not every player is going to score 30, and, I obviously don’t shoot like f–king Steph Curry, but I do damn near everything else elite. It just took one organization to understand that and realize that.”
The Warriors currently have one of the best defenses in the league and it’s no coincidence that they have a player such as Payton in their second unit. Just like his father, Hall of Famer Gary Payton Sr., Gary II is also a sparkplug on the defensive end. Gary II is very proud of his lineage; it’s just that he doesn’t necessarily agree with the “Mitten” moniker (Gary Sr. earned the nickname of “The Glove” for being one of the best defenders in the league during his time):
“Oh, yeah. The streets just said, ‘Young Glove,'” Gary II said. “I kinda like Young Glove more than ‘Mitten.’ I respect the Young Glove. [Laughs]. Mitten just sounds too kiddy.”
Whatever you want to call him, what won’t change about Payton is that he will still bring the energy night in and night out. He may not be the most important player on the Warriors roster, but he will definitely play a significant role for the Dubs this season — and perhaps, beyond.