Looney returning to Warriors on 3-year deal, Payton gone

FILE - Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney (5) dunks the ball against the Boston Celtics during the second quarter of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in Boston. The NBA’s free agency period opens Thursday night, June 30, 2022, with teams and players finally free to negotiate new deals. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors wanted to keep their roster together to make a run at a repeat.

As the NBA’s free agency period began, Golden State retained center Kevon Looney when he agreed to a $25.5 million, three-year contract, but lost several other key faces.


The reigning champions lost guard Gary Payton II to the Portland Trail Blazers on a $28 million, three-year contract and saw Otto Porter Jr. depart to the Toronto Raptors.

“Thankfully I hope that our players will give us a chance to respond to an offer. They don’t have to. They don’t owe it to us. But that’s what you get if you win and you create a good environment,” Golden State general manager Bob Myers said last week ahead of the draft. “… But sometimes the money doesn’t line up for us or them, and then you move on. But our goal, our hope, is to bring all those guys back and try to do it again.”

The 26-year-old Looney played all 82 games this season. He averaged 6.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists while becoming one of just five players to go all 82 games — and 104 straight counting the postseason run.

He started all five Western Conference finals games against Dallas then the first three of the Warriors’ six-game finals victory against the Celtics.

Longtime journeyman Payton acknowledged after the season he couldn’t wait to finally get his payday in free agency. A G Leaguer for so long, Payton was cut before the season began and he was ready to take a video job with the organization before being re-signed.

Payton said he couldn’t wait “to just relax and take a breath.”

“It’s just relief just after everything on the journey, just everything I’ve been through,” Payton said on Warriors’ exit-interview day June 18.

The 29-year-old Payton — a former Oregon State star and son of former Seattle SuperSonics star Gary Payton — emerged as a defensive stopper for Golden State, returning from a broken elbow to contribute in the NBA Finals against Boston that the Warriors won in six games.

Payton was injured when Grizzlies star Dillon Brooks committed a hard foul across Payton’s head on a layup attempt during the second round. He fell awkwardly at Memphis on May 3.

Payton’s efforts off the court helped make him a fan favorite and meant so much to the Warriors and San Francisco, too. He received the NBA’s Bob Lanier Community Assist Award on May 31 for his work supporting dyslexic children and pushing for early assessment.

He averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds over a career-high 71 games, Payton’s first season playing regularly.

Reserve Juan Toscano-Anderson is joining the Lakers, to which Stephen Curry offered a shout out on his Twitter account: “Always a champ and always doing it for Oakland…good luck my guy Juan T.”

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