Draymond, Steph pushed for GP2’s second 10-day in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
For any young player on the Warriors’ roster, earning the trust and confidence of veterans like Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson or Andre Iguodala can be the ticket to a long NBA career.
For Gary Payton II, that played a part in his journey toward becoming an NBA champion last week.
During “The Draymond Green Show,” which was recorded at the NBA podium following the Warriors’ Game 6 win over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Thursday night, Green revealed that he and Curry were the ones who pushed team president and general manager Bob Myers to keep Payton around at the end of the 2020-21 season.
“I remember his 10-day [contract] ended, and you know where that 10-day ended at? “Green said during the podcast, with Payton sitting a few feet away listening to the whole thing.” That 10-day ended here in Boston. And he’s dapping all of us up like ‘Yo, it’s been great. I appreciate y’all. ‘ I’m like ‘What are you talking about?’ And he’s like ‘My 10-day is up.’ I’m like ‘Dude, you’ll be here. See you later. ‘ And then I called Bob, Steph called Bob, we’re like ‘You can’t get rid of GP. Like, you got to bring him back. You see what he’s doing? You got to bring him back. ‘ And that was the start of all of this. “
At that point, Green welcomed Payton to the podium and asked him how it felt to be an NBA champ.
“First and foremost, from me to you, I appreciate you and everything you did,” Payton said to Green. “Went to bat for me through the summer and my first 10 days, whatever, you and 30 having my back and giving me this opportunity, believing in me, that alone just means the world. That’s why I went to bat for you this whole year. I didn’t do this for me. I did this for you and y’all’s legacy. Y’all legacies bigger than my career, I’m proud of you and everything you’ve been through, how you got it out and I appreciate you. “
The Warriors originally signed Payton to his first 10-day contract on April 8, 2021 and it expired after a five-point road loss to the Boston Celtics on April 17, 2021. Two days later, Golden State brought Payton back on a second 10 -day contract before eventually signing him to a two-year contract worth $ 1.99 million for the rest of the season.
That didn’t guarantee Payton would be on the roster for the beginning of the 2021-22 season and just days before the start of the season, the Warriors waived him, along with Avery Bradley, Jordan Bell and Mychal Mulder.
At the time of those four roster cuts, The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II reported that Green, Curry and other Warriors veterans were upset the front office didn’t keep Bradley as the 15th man on the roster.
A few days later, the Warriors brought Payton back, signing him to a one-year, $ 1.93 million contract for the rest of the 2021-22 season.
After bouncing around the NBA, Payton finally had found a home and he made good on the trust of Green and Curry, averaging a career-best 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 17.6 minutes over 71 games this season.
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Less than two weeks into the season, Payton already was showing his value to the Warriors by playing lockdown defense, causing coach Steve Kerr to call the then-28-year-old a “great weapon.”
Payton became such an important part of the Warriors’ playoff rotation that his fractured elbow in the second round against the Memphis Grizzlies was seen as a big blow to their title hopes, though they got through that series and then beat the Dallas Mavericks in the conference finals, giving GP2 a chance to return for the NBA Finals.
Against the Celtics, Payton averaged the sixth most minutes per game of any Warriors player (18.6) and shot 59.1 percent (13-of-22) from the field. In the Warriors’ Game 5 win over Boston, he scored 15 points off the bench.
Now that “great weapon” is an NBA champion and heads into unrestricted free agency this season, though it’s a safe bet Green and Curry will push for Myers and the front office to retain Payton.
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