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Gary Payton II signs with Portland Trail Blazers for 3 years, $26 million

Payton, 29, emerged as a defensive ace off the bench last season for the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Credit: Brandon Dill, AP Photo
Free agent Gary Payton II reportedly agreed to a three-year deal worth $28 million with the Portland Trail Blazers.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent Gary Payton II, the team announced Wednesday. On Thursday, Spotrac reported the details of Payton's contract. It's a three-year deal worth $26.1 million with a player option in the third year.

Shams Charania of The Athletic was first to report that the Blazers and Payton II had agreed to a contract on June 30. The initial reporting was that the deal was for three years and $28 million.

The signing gives the Blazers a versatile wing and point-of-attack defender.

"We are excited to have Gary join us in Portland," said Blazers general manager Joe Cronin. "Gary brings and elite defensive acumen and championship pedigree that will be essential to how we play basketball. His competitiveness and toughness will accent Coach Billups' style of play."

Payton, 29, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton, emerged as a defensive ace off the bench last season for the defending champion Golden State Warriors. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Warriors allowed 2.2 fewer points per 100 possessions when Payton was on the court. FiveThirtyEight's RAPTOR metric rated Payton as the fifth-best defender in the NBA last season, behind Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, Alex Caruso and Draymond Green.

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Anthony Slater and Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote about Payton's value to the Warriors, calling him "a defensive revelation" for the Warriors last season.

"As a slashing wing and occasional high screen roller — despite being 6-foot-3 — the Warriors unlocked him on offense in a Steph Curry environment, which allowed his disruptive defensive skill set to wreak havoc on the league. He led the NBA in steals per 36 minutes. Perimeter defense is vital to a winning team. Payton is one of the league’s best perimeter defenders," they wrote.

Where the Blazers' newest 6-3 guard will fit into Portland's rotation next season remains to be seen. Because of his defensive acumen and versatility, he can play multiple positions, though according to Cleaning The Glass and Basketball-Reference.com, he played only shooting guard and point guard last season for the Warriors. Portland already has a wealth of high-minute guards on its roster in Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Josh Hart.

It may not matter. Payton's versatility will allow him to play all over the court for the Blazers. John Hollinger, a former front-office executive with the Memphis Grizzlies and now an NBA analyst for The Athletic, referred to Payton as a "bouncy, positionless, definition-defying glue guy." Which means he should fit in great in Portland, wherever he plays.

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