The Golden State Warriors are in a great place. They’re coming off a championship season, have won four of the last eight NBA titles, and assembled one of the league’s most impressive young cores. Golden State has it all.
Unfortunately, three key figures from last year’s championship team have remained vacant – Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica and Gary Payton II. The Warriors replaced their production in the form of Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green, but their title team is still gone.
While a recent interview about the Truth & Basketball podcast, hosted by former NBA coach George Karl, Payton spoke about why he left the Warriors. Although he said he would have liked to return, he couldn’t turn down the amount of money the Portland Trail Blazers had offered him.
“For the money. I had to take the money. I had to take the money, coach. If it hadn’t worked out, I would have happily gone back to the Golden State. But, you know, it just didn’t work out. Just the timing and all , it’s just a business. And so I just had to take the money.”
Payton played a unique role at the Golden State during his time there as a defensive anchor and elite cutter. And while the warriors would have liked to keep him, it just wasn’t in the cards.
Team owner Joe Lacob spoke to The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami earlier this offseason about why the Warriors just couldn’t bring Payton back.
Lacob: “Nothing we could really talk about”
When the Warriors signed Payton last season, he was on a league minimum contract. But by the time the season was over, he had exceeded his contract and was looking for more money in free agency. Lacob admitted that Golden State knew they probably couldn’t keep Payton and that he actually received more money than they thought.
“No surprise to us that if these guys … like Gary Payton have had a good year and if he got a big offer then it would be very unlikely that we would sign him again no matter how much we love him. ” Lacob told Kawakami. “And we really liked him. In fact, he got a much bigger offer than we thought. More than. And I’m not saying he’s not worth it or worth it. But it’s a lot. And it’s not something we could really do.”
Golden State has paid all of its players in the past, but even they’ve reached their breaking point. And now Payton is considered a sleeper with his new team to win a major award.
Payton is considered a sleeper for the NBA award
According to FanDuel, Payton has a +16000 chance of winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report said that Payton should be considered a “sleeper bet” to win it.
“The NBA has waited from 1996 to 2022 for a guard (Marcus Smart) to follow in Gary Payton’s footsteps and bring home the Defensive Player of the Year award. The wait for the next one won’t be nearly as long if Payton’s son, Gary Payton II has anything to say about it,” Buckley wrote.
Payton played a big part in Golden State, and even he admitted he would have liked to stay, but the money was too much for him to pass up.
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https://heavy.com/sports/golden-state-warriors/gary-payton-ii-podcast-george-karl/ Warrior Rumors: Gary Payton II Reveals Why He Left Golden State