ESPN’s Elhassan: Elfrid Payton’s time in Phoenix is a tryout, not a rental

Feb 12, 2018, 6:17 PM
Orlando Magic's Elfrid Payton, right, drives around Los Angeles Lakers' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, l...
Orlando Magic's Elfrid Payton, right, drives around Los Angeles Lakers' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. Orlando won 127-105. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
(AP Photo/John Raoux)
LISTEN: Amin Elhassan, ESPN NBA analyst

Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers stole the spotlight at the NBA trade deadline, the Phoenix Suns did fill a hole at point guard with the trade for Elfrid Payton.

As the clock toward the trade deadline was ticking, Phoenix completed a deal with the Orlando Magic that sent Payton to the Suns in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick.

The Suns, who were experimenting with different players at the point guard position, needed to try something new.

“I think (Payton) is definitely a tryout, I don’t think he’s a rental,” ESPN NBA analyst Amin Elhassan said on 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station’s Bickley and Marotta Monday. “They went out and got someone, first of all, because Devin Booker running point guard was not exactly well received and Booker probably didn’t like it that much either. So they needed a true point.”

The Suns needed to fill the void and, according to Elhassan, Tyler Ulis and Josh Gray wouldn’t get the job done.

“The main thing for the Suns right now is, ‘I need an NBA point guard,’” Elhassan said. “Elfrid Payton is a guy who is, yes he is an NBA point guard. That enough, I think will help Devin Booker.”

Some believed that Payton, a No. 10 pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2014, would be a quality NBA player if he could develop one aspect to his game.

“Obviously we thought highly of him in the draft and we said the thing about him and Emmanuel Mudiay and other guards who got traded at the trade deadline, ‘once he gets a jump shot the game will really open up for him,’” Elhassan said.

So far in his career, Payton still needs to work on his shot to become the guy at the point guard position for an NBA franchise.

“Well, he really never got the jump shot and so that part of the game really needs to grow and grow consistently,” Elhassan said. “Not just, ‘hey if we lay off you can you hit this shot?’ You got to be able to shoot off the dribble, you got to be able to be aggressive with that jump shot in order to keep defenses honest in order for the rest of his game that we think is really good, the passing part, to really shine.”

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ESPN’s Elhassan: Elfrid Payton’s time in Phoenix is a tryout, not a rental