NBA rumors: Warriors 'favorites' to sign Gary Payton II; Mavericks interested

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Report: Warriors 'favorites' to sign GP2; Mavs interested originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

While other NBA teams try to figure how they will retool their rosters ahead of the 2022-23 season, the Warriors' main priority heading into free agency this week is retaining players who helped them win a championship earlier this month.

Bringing back center Kevon Looney should be the Warriors' No. 1 task this offseason, writes NBC Sports Bay Area's Dalton Johnson.

But what about versatile wing Gary Payton II?

The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported Monday that GP2 "profiles as the second most important" free agent for the Warriors to re-sign and noted that Golden State is "considered to be the favorites."

That doesn't mean other teams won't try to pry away the 29-year-old, who coach Steve Kerr referred to as a "weapon" on defense early in the season.

Slater reported that the Dallas Mavericks should be considered "serious suitors" for Payton, though they have to sort out the Jalen Brunson free agency situation first.

Payton made just over $1.9 million with the Warriors this past season and he is in line for a hefty raise.

The Warriors are heavily into the luxury tax and will be repeaters, so it's unclear how much they are willing to offer Payton as any potential contract will cost them much more in luxury tax dollars.

But Payton showed his value to the Warriors late in the season and in the playoffs.

The journeyman played 71 games during the season and averaged 7.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 17.6 minutes.

When the postseason rolled around, Payton was a key member of the shortened rotation. In Game 2 of the Warriors' second-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, he suffered a fractured left elbow when Dillon Brooks committed a flagrant foul penalty two. GP2 missed the rest of the series and the entire Western Conference finals before returning in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

In five games against the Celtics (four wins), Payton averaged 7.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 17 minutes per contest.

RELATED: GP2 has funny remark about winning ring faster than his dad

Payton has fans in Steph Curry and Draymond Green, among others, and he clearly loves the Warriors' environment. That's not a guarantee he will return, but it could be the foundation for a quick reunion once free agency opens Thursday.

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