On Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks announced the signing of former Oregon State stand-out, Gary Payton II, to a multi-year contract that will keep the 24-year old in “Brew Town”. The news was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
At Oregon State, Payton II was the focal point of a team that returned the Beavers to the NCAA Tournament in 2016, for the first time in the program’s history since 1990. He was a two-time All-Pac 12 selection, in addition to also being named the back-to-back Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in both 2015 and 2016. However, Payton II went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and failed to make the Houston Rockets roster, after a hernia injury derailed his NBA Summer League debut.
This past season, Payton II was spent time in the NBA D-League, where he’s averaged 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and of course, 2.0 steals per game for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The steadiness of his defensive game, combined with his improving offensive skill-set, looks to be one of the main reasons that the Bucks are interested in bringing in a talent like Payton II.
Payton II will be filling the final roster spot for a Milwaukee team who waived forward Terrence Jones on Saturday and will find himself deeply mixed in competition with predominately youthful roster. All five of the Bucks’ double-digit scorers currency are 26 years old or younger and the team only has two players currently on the roster who are thirty years or older (Mirza Teletovic, Jason Terry).
One positive sign about Payton II’s stay in Milwaukee is that it will re-unite him with a close family friend and a former Oregon State coach, whom both may have a particular interest in the young guards’ abilities. The close family friend is Bucks’ head coach Jason Kidd, who grew up as a rising basketball talent in Oakland with Payton’s father, Gary Payton, and the two have remained close ever since. The former Oregon State coach in Milwaukee is Craig Robinson, who now works as the “Vice President of Player/Organizational Development” for the team and was in the midst of recruiting Payton II to campus before he was fired in 2014.
Specific terms of Payton II’s contract have not been released, but Payton II will be active and in uniform for the Bucks in time for their home match-up against Dallas on Sunday afternoon (April 2nd).