3. Gary Payton II – $8.7 million
Here’s the controversial one. Is Gary Payton II worth $8.7 million to the Warriors? Most would argue yes even if the franchise didn’t want to match the three-year offer tabled by the Portland Trail Blazers last offseason.
The 30-year-old is a perfect fit in the Warrior system — he’s one of the best on-ball defenders in the league, an element Golden State missed immensely during his brief stint with Portland. Offensively, the Warriors can hide some of his flaws and use him effectively almost as a big man — highlighting his athleticism by positioning him in the dunkers spot, or even as the roller in pick-and-roll situations like they did against the Lakers during the playoffs. His exquisite fit and infectious style makes him a beloved figure among Warrior fans.
However, if we ask ourselves what Payton would have garnered were he a free agent this offseason, then you’d have to question whether he would have got over $8 million from a rival team. He got this time a year ago, but that was coming off a career-best season and as part of a championship-winning setup.
Payton’s time in Portland was plagued by injury (of which the franchise handled poorly), and it didn’t appear like many Trail Blazers fans were too concerned with his departure. He returned successfully for the Warriors late last season and into the playoffs, but their reliance on him (started three-straight games to end the postseason) probably doesn’t bode well for overall team success.
There’s a genuine chance that Payton dives back into 2021-22 form to a point where he can be classified as underpaid. At the same time, there’s also a chance he’s the ninth or tenth player in the rotation behind the starting five, Chris Paul, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and perhaps Dario Saric. If that’s the case, then $8.7 million might be slight overs for what his real value will be.