Did the Warriors make a mistake letting Gary Payton II walk?
That is apparently the sentiment felt by some within the Warriors organization according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. In Slater’s excellent breakdown of Payton II’s replacement Donte DiVincenzo, the Warriors reporter cited sources who said not everybody was on board with Joe Lacob’s decision not to match the Blazers’ $8 million-plus annual offer for the defensive stopper.
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. 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.
The decision showed that Lacob — who is paying the largest tax bill in NBA history — does have a limit. The Warriors held firm with an offer of $6.4 million for next season, the taxpayer mid-level exception. Ultimately Payton, who at 29 years old has worked hard to receive an NBA payday, decided more money per year and a longer deal was worth leaving the world champs.
It wasn’t a total loss for Golden State. The Warriors signed DiVincenzo the next day for a bargain to replace Payton in the lineup. DiVincenzo isn’t the defender that Payton is (few are) but is capable on that end and his a bigger threat offensively, his 3-point percentage hovering around 40% when he’s been healthy.
Losing Payton is maybe the first example of the Warriors letting a player they wanted to keep walk due to financial concerns in the Joe Lacob era. Only time will tell if it comes back to bite them.