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Breaking: Warriors trade for Gary Payton II

He’s baaaaaack!!!!

Gary Payton II, shirtless, holding the Larry O’Brien trophy during the Warriors championship parade Photo by Josh Leung/NBAE via Getty Images

HE’S BACK!!! The Golden State Warriors made a shocking and exciting move at the NBA trade deadline, swinging a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers for guard Gary Payton II.

The Warriors are sending Kevin Knox II and five second-round picks — in other words, everything they got when they traded James Wiseman to the Detroit Pistons earlier in the day — to Portland to facilitate the reunion.

Payton had a breakout season with the Warriors last year, and played himself into a contract that the Warriors were unwilling to match, due to massive tax penalties. But with the team shedding the contract of Wiseman — who made a little more than Payton this year, and a lot more next year — they were able to reunite with one of their most important players from last year’s championship run.

GPII has struggled with injuries this year, and has only appeared in 15 games for Portland. But he seems healthy now, and played a key role in the Blazers win over Golden State on Wednesday night.

The Warriors have struggled to match last year’s defensive performance, and adding Payton — one of the best on-ball perimeter defenders in the entire NBA — will go a long way towards fixing that issue.

Payton was also beloved in the Warriors locker room, both with the players and the coaching staff. He gets along incredibly well with the team, and knows the system. I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be excited about coming back to the Warriors, and that everyone is stoked to have him.

Welcome home, GPII.

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