Sometimes in sports, it’s the setting and culture that will keep a player on a team over the potential dollars they can make elsewhere.
That seems to be the case for Cameron Payne, who some thought outpriced himself for the Phoenix Suns after a strong postseason run that included winning two games in the Western Conference Finals as the team’s starter when Chris Paul was in COVID protocols.
Whether it’s the connection to Monty Williams, wanting another shot at a NBA title with this Suns franchise or valuing how he fits in the roster, Payne wasted no time signing a three year contract, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
Free agent guard Cameron Payne has agreed to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns on a three-year, $19 million deal, league sources tell @YahooSports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 2, 2021
With this contract, the Suns get a reliable back-up point guard and Payne has long-term stability in this league, something that might have seemed like a apparition the first few years in the league.
His path to regular NBA minutes was far from a straight one.
Coming out of Murray State, Payne was a lottery pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Aside from being a fun handshake teammate with Russell Westbrook, he never really found a footing. But it start his connection with Monty Williams, who was an assistant coach at the time.
Despite heading to Chicago, Cleveland, The G-League and China, the two reunited in the bubble and Payne played well enough to earn a spot on the 2020-21 roster.
In 60 games, he averaged 8.4 points, 3.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds on 18 minutes a game this season.
The point guard was the spark the Suns needed off the bench and was versatile enough to be the lead point guard when Paul was on the bench or share the backcourt with the veteran and provide a different wrinkle on the floor.
In signing Payne early in the free agency process, the Suns can now focus on completing the process to bring back their full back court. Chris Paul opted out of his player option but the anticipation is Phoenix and the veteran point guard can come to a long-term agreement.