NBA Champion Listed as Potential Celtics Target in Free Agency

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Gary Payton II, Boston Celtics

In the NBA, life comes at you fast. One minute you’re fighting for the championship and the next you’re planning for the off-season and looking for solutions to some of the problems that plagued you over the past season.

The Boston Celtics are truly in off-season mode now, and as a result, rumors of potential acquisitions are starting to surface once the free agency period begins on June 30.

According to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype, One player Boston may be interested in is Golden State Warriors Gary Payton II, who was part of the team that defeated the Celtics in six games to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy on June 16.

“Bruce Brown and Gary Payton II could be natural targets for the Celtics with the taxpayer MLE given their prioritization of defensive-minded players, even if they don’t quite bring up good three-pointers,” Gozlan wrote on the Season 17 Primer.

Payton is coming off a breakout season for the Warriors, playing a career-high 71 games and earning the best statline of his young career to date.


Does Payton II fit well?

Payton is a versatile guard who can also slide into the small forward position when needed. His explosiveness on the rim also makes him a good small ball pick and roll man, as he can split court vertically as he rolls to the rim.

On the defensive side, Payton is intense, switchable and can act as an undersized rim protector due to his verticality and ability to change directions on the fly. Ime Udoka likes his players as two-sided threats who pride themselves on the defensive side of the floor, and as the Celtics have seen firsthand, every member of this Warriors rotation is a robust defender, so Payton II should be a good fit to consider.

On the offensive side, Payton II is an average three-point shooter, converting 35.8% of his 1.7 tries last season as he prefers to do his job as a slasher, pressurizing the edge and to attack large men head-on. The Celtics like their smaller guards as good screeners to force offensive mismatches around the perimeter, and Payton II has proven adept in that area – meaning he’d likely be a good all-rounder.


Would Payton II be interested?

Let’s be clear here: If the Warriors extend an offer hand, Payton II will most likely remain in its current situation. After all, the Warriors gave him his first real chance and he won a championship along the way. So why would you leave such a successful situation when you could choose to stay?

However, should the Warriors want to look elsewhere, Boston is arguably the next best thing, coming off an NBA Finals run, young, talented and on-court switchable.

Payton II has proven himself a legitimate member of rotation on a rival team and will likely receive offers from across the NBA, but given Boston’s recent post-season success and their current upward trajectory, they’re perfectly placed to pounce on the young guard’s signature , when his time in San Francisco is up.

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