Should Payne clears waivers this week, he'll have a significant market of contending teams looking to add him -- especially after his productive postseason performance for the Phoenix Suns in the 2023 Western Conference playoffs.
The Spurs acquired Payne along with a 2025 second-round draft pick and $5.6 million in a July trade with the Suns. The Spurs have several young guards they're planning to build around on the roster, and Payne will ultimately make more sense for a contending team's roster.
Payne, 29, had a terrific run as a backup point guard to Chris Paul in Phoenix over the past three years. He had a 31-point performance in Game 6 of the 2023 Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets, and he started the final four games of the postseason for Phoenix. In a crucial two-game stretch in the Suns' 2021 NBA Finals run, Payne started for an injured Paul and responded with an average of 20 points and nine assists, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Payne averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 assists in 48 games for the Suns last season. He's had stops with Oklahoma City, Chicago and Cleveland since the Thunder selected him with the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.