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Elfrid Payton: ‘happy to be somewhere I’m wanted’

Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton, top, lays up the ball against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

After making a move at the NBA trade deadline to add depth to their point guard position, the Phoenix Suns formally introduced Elfrid Payton on Saturday.

“I’m just excited to be here and happy to be somewhere I’m wanted,” Payton said. “I always thought I had a chance to come here.

“I’m excited to be able to play with my teammate, well, a good friend of mine, T.J. (Warren).”

Before being selected 10th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft to the Orlando Magic, Payton was quite familiar with the Suns, working out twice for the organization with Warren.

“He’s a guy we really liked and I think he’ll help us a great deal on the floor,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. “Obviously he’s in the last year of his contract, but we have potential interest beyond this year as well and obviously we’ll see how the last 25 or 30 games go but we’ve had a glaring need at the point guard spot.

“Elfrid, we think with his age and size and length and the way he plays will fit right in with our group so we think and hope he’ll fit in really well.”

Payton, in his fourth NBA season, is averaging 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. He is shooting 52 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range.

“We need a guy who does what he can do and what I mean by that is bigger point guard with size and length, good athleticism, he’s a very good finisher around the basket,” McDonough said.

But the Suns see more than just an offensive-minded player.

“Defensively, he’s got a lot of potential with his size and length. Like most young players, like most of our team, there’s room for growth there, but he’s got the physical tools, he’s got the mentality to do it and he’s motivated and we’re motivated to see what he can do,” McDonough said.

Payton could see his first action with the Suns when they take on the Denver Nuggets Saturday night at home. Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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