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#pounditTuesday, November 29, 2022

Gary Payton II make surprising free agency decision

Gary Payton holds a ball

Apr 10, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) during warmups before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors were expected to lose a few players in free agency, but Gary Payton II was not one of them. However, that is exactly what is happening.

Payton is finalizing a deal to join the Portland Trail Blazers, Shams Charania reported on Thursday night. The deal is reportedly for $28 million over three years.

That’s over $9 million per season, which should be affordable for a team like Golden State that prioritizes winning. However, due to Golden State’s cap situation, that $9 million would cost the team multiple millions more. The Warriors are repeat luxury tax offenders and would likely have to pay around seven times the amount of Payton’s salary as a tax.

Golden State may have really wanted Payton back, but the cost became too prohibitive for them.

This is a perfect example of how a salary cap/luxury tax can help create competitive balance. The Warriors can outspend most teams and do what they can to keep their squad together, but at some point it’s too costly to keep everyone they would like.

So even though Payton loves the Warriors and is grateful to them for giving him a shot, he will be leaving for a nice guaranteed contract elsewhere.

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