Although there was some talk that he could opt out of his contract in order to restructure his current deal, Gary Payton II had decided to opt into his $9.1 million player option to remain with the Golden State Warriors for the 2024-25 season, according to ESPN's Kendra Andrews.

Payton, whom the Warriors re-acquired during the 2022-23 season after letting him go in free agency, has proven to be an essential part of the Warriors' success defensively. By opting into his contract with the Warriors, Payton will now be able to agree to terms on a new deal with the organization during the offseason to ensure his long-term status.

However, Golden State's payroll continues to rise with this decision by Payton. Already projected to be a second apron tax team, the Warriors will face some difficult decisions pertaining to the rest of their roster. In addition to the Warriors having to decide on keeping or releasing Chris Paul and Kevon Looney, they will also face the scenario of Klay Thompson being an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Money was set to become a major factor for the Warriors at some point during their championship run, and it seems like everything is beginning to catch up to them ahead of the 2024-25 season. The good news is that Payton, a fan favorite and vocal leader for this team, isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

This past season, Payton played in only 44 games for the Warriors due to multiple injuries. The 31-year-old averaged 5.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 0.9 steals in roughly 15.5 minutes per game while shooting 36.4 percent from three-point range.

The Warriors have utilized Payton as a 3-and-D player who can virtually fill any position on the court. The value and energy he brings defensively can't be replaced, which is why the Warriors decided to bring Payton back during the 2022-23 season after initially letting him sign a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The problem with Payton opting into his contract is that the Warriors now have their backs up against the wall in terms of choosing who they are going to have to let go of.

How Gary Payton II's contract impacts Warriors' offseason plans

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) and guard Gary Payton II (0) walk towards the locker room after the Warriors lost to the Sacramento Kings during a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at the Golden 1 Center.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors are not in a good position entering the offseason. Not only did they miss the playoffs, but they were going to be faced with financial problems regardless of whether Payton opted into or out of his contract. In the event that Payton had decided to opt out and become a free agent, the Warriors' payroll situation would have become a lot clearer, especially as they look to keep Klay Thompson.

However, now that he has opted in, the team's payroll sits at roughly $174 million, just about $15 million under the second apron. If they were to waive Paul and Looney, then Golden State would be about $32 million below the $171.3 million luxury tax line entering free agency, according to NBA capologist Yossi Gozlan. Essentially, this would give them the money needed to retain Thompson.

Aside from what is to happen with Looney, Paul, and Thompson, there are also questions about what Payton opting into his contract actually means. Will he finish out this deal and sign a new one with the Warriors, or could Payton's moderately-sized contract be utilized in a trade for the Warriors to add an immediate upgrade in search of another title?

All options are on the table for the Warriors as they approach the 2024 NBA Draft and free agency. This is a critical offseason for them.