3 Reasons Spurs should chase Gary Payton II
By Kyle Forson
I was recently asked who the San Antonio Spurs should target in free agency. It's a loaded question with a simple answer: Gary Payton II.
Gary Payton? Is that the son of NBA Hall of Famer, Seattle Supersonic great, legendary lock down defender, and world class trash talker Gary Payton?
Damn straight it is, the son of “The Glove” is a free agent.
Rather than dive into this free agent’s stat lines, age, whether he is prone to injury, or if the money is right (it is), let's get out of the comfort zone a bit. Think of it as an NBA free agent progressive, outside the box review.
Intrigued? You should be, and here is why.
Undrafted out of college, Gary “Young Glove” Payton signed with Houston, where after only six preseason games, he was sent down to the NBA G League's Rio City Grande Valley Vipers. On December 3rd of that year, Gary Payton II dropped 51 points going 20-29 from the field to go with his 11 boards.
I can already hear you saying, “But it is the development league”. Listen, I don’t care if this was the NBA G League or a YMCA Wednesday night co-ed league. If you put up numbers like this, someone better take notice, and they did.
Payton then signed with the Milwaukee Bucks to play for long-time Gregg Popovich assistant coach Mike Budenholzer, who is a well known product of the Pop family tree. The Bucks later waived Payton, and he found opportunity out West with LeBron James and his Lakers for a spell. After that gig was up, he signed with Portland.
The Blazers cut him after a month and, in September of that year, Payton landed back in the G League on the same team. To Viper fans, he was home.
Young Glove lived up to the nickname and was ultimately named NBA G League Defensive Player of the Year during his second stint with the RGV Vipers. His defensive play was what put folks in front offices of NBA teams on notice this time, not just his offensive capabilities that turned heads the first time around. Washington evidently liked what they saw from Payton and offered him a ten-day contract with the Wizards.
Payton then ventured East to our nation’s capital to play at the highest level once again, hoping to earn a longer-term contract obviously.
Life changes quickly, folks. Ten days came and went, concluding with Payton departing DC on day eleven. He was right back in the Rio Grande Valley for the third time. He embraced this opportunity and would lead the Vipers to the NBA G League Championship, proving his leadership capabilities.
Fast forward a bit, and today Gary Payton II is rostered on the Golden State Warriors, where he comes off the bench as a key contributor for Head Coach Steve Kerr, another Popovich disciple. I guess perseverance does indeed pay off in the long run -- at least it would appear it has for Payton.
At the conclusion of this season, Young Glove enters free agency, and with the Warriors on the fence about signing him, this feels like the same old story of him ending up back in Texas, only this time I see the narrative having a minor twist.
Replace the RGV with SAT.
Here are three reasons San Antonio should be interested in the talented guard's services.
During this year’s Western Conference Semifinals, Young Glove sustained a flagrant foul, leading to a broken elbow. This injury, unfortunately, sidelined him throughout the Warriors' playoff run up to this point. Somehow, Payton already recovered enough to be available for the NBA Finals, an impressive turnaround time to return after that type of injury.
This guy makes zero excuses and is anything but soft.
2. Payton is teachable
Prior to the injury, Payton was a key contributor coming off the bench for the Kerr-led Warriors. He took direction from his head coach and soaked up invaluable knowledge from future Hall of Famer Steph Curry, the Warriors starting point guard. He understood the assignment and took nothing for granted.
Unlike other ego driven NBA ballers, Payton understands his role and is teachable.
3. Unmatched perseverance
Gary Payton responds to adversity, plain and simple. He embraces opportunity when setbacks occur. That is clear as outlined in our brief review of his NBA journey thus far earlier and emphasized even more considering he has made himself at least potentially ready to go for his very first NBA Finals. Embracing opportunity among setbacks -- sounds a lot like the 2014 San Antonio Spurs to me. A trait like that sure would make a nice fit in San Antonio, wouldn't it? I think so.
The San Antonio Spurs need a tough, teachable, reliable, and experienced backup point guard for All-Star Dejounte Murray -- it's one of the burning questions this offseason that surrounds the Silver and Black.
Gary Payton II of the Golden State Warriors, by way of the Rio Grande Valley, is the answer to that question.