The Suns appear to have filled their last spot on the roster with a previous lottery pick that left the NBA but played very well in the G-League last season.
Point guard Cameron Payne scored big numbers for Texas in the G-League, with 23.2 points (48% of total shots, 36.5% on 7.7 3PA), over 8.1 assists and 4 , 9 rebounds per game (15 games) and now has what is probably a beauty contract with the Phoenix Suns until the end of the 2020-21 season.
The deal will restart 8 times with Payne for the Orlando bubble, then pay him for next season. It is not known yet if next year is guaranteed, or in any case higher than the minimum of the veteran championship.
Payne would become the “substantially minimal” fourth reserve point guard for the Suns in Orlando, but only Ty Jerome and Payne are currently under contract for next season. Both Elie Okobo and Jevon Carter become limited free agents at the end of this season. And we haven’t even mentioned Jalen Lecque, who is a 19-year-old combined guard, who fought in the G-League this year.
While the addition of Payne confuses the role of guarding the backup point in Orlando, it foreshadows a likely Suns plan to make Payne and Jerome the primary backups for Ricky Rubio next season, leaving Okobo and Carter.
Payne had previously been a lottery pick, taken immediately after Devin Booker in 2015, but canceled by the NBA after only four seasons. He has a percentage of NBA career shots of 39.7% in total and 33.1% out of three. His highest averages in the NBA were 8.8 points and 4.5 assists in 25 games with Chicago in spring 2018.
You may remember Payne as Russell Westbrook’s often injured backup in Oklahoma City, but especially for his dance and delight game and for his game on the field.
Perhaps at the age of 25 in the G-League, Payne found the talent that made him a lottery pick just five years ago.
Here is a featured game for him.