Although the Golden State Warriors could have paid Gary Payton II themselves and investor Joe Lacob had previously boasted about his team’s willingness to “do anything and everything we have to do to stay ahead and be the best that we can be,” the Dubs have now lost Gary Payton II to the Portland Trail Blazers. Warriors fans were baffled by Payton’s mysterious Instagram tale that was released on Friday.
A few hours later, Gary Payton II explained on Twitter that he was merely referring to the fact that the Portland Trail Blazers are paying him. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that a three-year, $28 million contract between Payton and the Blazers has been reached.
Gary Payton II Leaves The Warriors
The Warriors could have given Payton up to $10.8 million yearly, surpassing Portland’s offer since they held Gary Payton II’s early Bird rights.
The Warriors are currently raking in so much money that they could soon overtake the New York Knicks as the NBA’s most valued team. Yes, paying Payton would have resulted in an extra luxury tax fine. And no, the Warriors were not forced to pick between Kevon Looney and Payton, another free agency. To maintain the unity of their championship squad, they might have paid both and ignored the tax bills.
It is difficult to reconcile the Warriors’ sudden anxiety over their luxury tax burden with the aforementioned public statements made by Lacob and those made on his behalf by general manager Bob Myers. Payton, a superb, adaptable defender with scoring potential, is unquestionably a guy the Warriors would like to keep. The Warriors were therefore either no longer prepared to “do whatever we need to do to stay on top and be the greatest that we can be,” or something had changed.