With the Milwaukee Bucks waiving Gary Payton II, could the Philadelphia 76ers target him for perimeter insurance?
As a number of two-way contracts come to an end around the league, we’re bound to see a flurry of waived and signed players in the coming weeks. One of the first casualties was Gary Payton II, who the Milwaukee Bucks waived in order to make room for Sean Kilpatrick — who happened to be waived by the Nets to make room for Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas.
At face value, that’s a no-brainer for Milwaukee. Kilpatrick has shown himself to be an NBA-level rotation player, giving the Bucks someone who’s capable of producing immediately off the bench. It also leaves Payton on the open market, though, giving a team like the Philadelphia 76ers room to make a move.
With Okafor and Stauskas off the books, Philly has a roster spot it can commit to Payton. They also have a couple of two-way contracts in James Michael McAdoo and Jacob Pullen that are bound to end eventually. If Payton’s someone they value, they have a way to add him.
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Albeit in limited minutes, Payton did start six of his 18 games with the Bucks this season — averaging 2.5 points in 8.8 minutes per game overall. That’s not exactly eye-popping productivity, but he has a game that, stylistically, could mesh well with Brett Brown’s desires on the perimeter.
Payton was never much of a shooter — dating back to his Oregon State days — but the rest of his game is suited well to an NBA second unit. He’s a plus athlete with nice burst on drives to the rim and underrated vision as a playmaker, something he flashed briefly this summer in Vegas.
He’s not an advanced decision maker, but can put passes on the money and has shown some signs of growth as a primary creator, which was a question mark coming out of college. His 3-point shot has never been a reliable weapon, but he thrives in transition and can work off the ball as a slasher.
The other side of the ball is where Payton shines the most, though. He has around a 6-foot-7 wingspan with quick hands, allowing him to defend either guard spot while racking up steals at an impressive clip. Much like his father, Payton’s hustle — especially on defense — is what drives his value as a player.
The Sixers’ bench has been somewhat underwhelming defensively, with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Jerryd Bayless both struggling in that department. Considering TLC’s inability to shoot as well, there could be room for Payton to at least get a shot at some occasional minutes if he impresses Brown enough.
It feels like Payton’s deserving of another extended chance, perhaps with more substantial minutes than what he saw in Milwaukee. The Sixers might not give him that, but he’s at least worth a shot based on talent and pedigree alone.