What Type Of Deal Will Former UL Star Elfrid Payton Get?
What kind of contract should fans expect for Louisiana Ragin' Cajun basketball standout Elfrid Payton to receive this offseason?
I certainly hope I'm wrong, but I think it will likely be in the one-year, $5 million range.
After playing three-plus seasons for the Orlando Magic, before being traded to the Phoenix Suns in February, Payton is a restricted free agent, which means he can sign an offer sheet with any team, but the Suns can retain him by matching the terms of that offer.
A native of Gretna, Louisiana, Payton played three years for the Cajuns, from the 2011-2012 season through the 2013-2014 campaign.
In his junior season (2013-2014) Payton emerged as one of the top defensive players in college basketball, while also averaging 19.2 points, 5.9 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, helping lead Louisiana to the NCAA Tournament.
In that season, Payton was named first team All-Sun Belt, the conference Defensive Player of the Year, and the National Defensive Player of the Year by winning the Lefty Driesell Award.
Following his junior season, Payton declared for the NBA Draft, and was selected by the Orlando Magic with the 10th-overall pick.
An NBA All-Rookie selection in 2015, Payton played three-plus season with the Magic, averaging 11.1 points, to go along with 4.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.4 steals a contest.
Traded to Phoenix for a second-round pick in February, the 6-foot-4, 185-pound Payton played in 19 games, averaging 11.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.2 assists.
Over his first nine games with the Suns, Payton recorded two triple-doubles while nearly missing two others, averaging 16.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and a decent 47.9% field goal percentage.
He struggle over his final ten games, however.
During that span, he only reached double-figures in scoring four times, including a combined zero double-figure outputs in either assists or rebounds, while averaging 7.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists.
Beyond the arc over his final ten games with the Suns, Payton shot only 9.1%.
So, Payton has had his moments, but he hasn't been consistent.
He'll certainly be playing, somewhere, in the NBA next season, but likely as a back-up.
Why not return to the Suns?
It seems like the Suns like him, but may not want to give him a multi-year deal, and sign him as a back-up.
And there's nothing wrong with Payton signing a one-year deal as a back-up, with the Suns, or anyone else.
Still only 24-years old, Payton may still have his best basketball in front of him.
It's possible he may have a good year as a back-up in the 2018-2019 season, and then become a more valuable commodity next year.
Some team could get very lucky signing Payton to a one-year deal this offseason. It's possible he could flourish, and that team could reap the benefits.
This year, expect Payton to get a one-year deal, with back-up numbers.