NBA News: Warriors Feels 'Stung' After They Let Gary Payton II Walk

Gary Payton II
Wikimedia | Frizbaloid

Ernesto Cova

Gary Payton II went from an afterthought to one of the most impactful players in the NBA champions. The Golden State Warriors needed his disruptive defense, quick hands, and slashing skills to go back to the ultimate stage, yet they couldn't keep him in free agency.

Payton left to join forces with Damian Lillard and play for the Portland Trail Blazers. He got his well-deserved payday after grinding his way into the Warriors' rotation with the final spot available on the team.

The Warriors Refused To Pay

Gary Payton II
Wikimedia | FMSky

Payton's departure was a massive blow for the team. In fact, several within the organization didn't like how the front office handled the situation, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

"The difference in the tax penalty — somewhere around $15 million extra in the immediate, a whole lot more throughout a longer-term deal — caused Lacob and the Warriors to balk. It stung several in the organization, per sources," Slater wrote.

The Dubs Wanted Payton Back

Gary Payton II
Giphy | NBA

Payton had become a beloved and respected member of the locker room. His work ethic, personality, and the defensive prowess he brought to the table were cherished and appreciated highly by his teammates:

"They’d found Payton and grown to not only love the person but also understand the value of his unique skill set. It translated to winning. For the first time, they’d failed to retain one of their own due to an unwillingness to meet a financial demand," added Slater.

This Was Predictable

Gary Payton II
Wikimedia | FMSky

But it's not like this was a huge surprise. The Dubs had featured the highest payroll in the league for years and it was a matter of time before the owner finally decided to say no:

"Bob Myers warned of an eventual salary limit, an undefined financial threshold where Joe Lacob would finally say no. That red light came on the first night of free agency," Slater wrote. "The Golden State Warriors let Gary Payton II walk. They offered him the taxpayer mid-level, which sits at $6.4 million. He received north of $8 million from Portland, plus an extra year on an incentivized deal."

It's Been Tough For The Champs

Otto Porter Jr
Wikimedia | Shakeydeal33

The Warriors also lost two key defenders in Juan Toscano-Anderson and Otto Porter Jr., but at least they managed to extend Kevon Looney on quite a team-friendly deal.

They still need to secure Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins for the future and they have plenty of confidence in getting a deal done sooner rather than later. Still, they're not a better team today than they were last season, and that should be a big concern for the fans.