Getty Images

Gary Payton II has opted in to the final year of his contract with the Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN's Kendra Andrews. The deadline for Payton to make a decision on his $9.1 million player option was Wednesday, and he will now also have the chance to sign an extension with the Warriors this summer. 

Payton is coming off another frustrating, injury-filled season in which he was limited to 44 games and averaged 5.5 points and 2.6 rebounds. This time, the issue was a series of muscle injuries. He strained his right calf in late November and ended up missing over a month. Shortly after returning, he strained his left hamstring and was ruled out for another month. 

After making his NBA debut with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2017, Payton bounced around the league until finding a home with the Warriors at the end of the 2020-21 season. He then became a major contributor in 2021-22 and helped the team win its fourth championship in the Steph Curry era. Payton parlayed that success into a three-year, $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, but needed surgery on a core muscle just before the 2022-23 campaign. He wound up playing just 15 games with the Blazers before they traded him back to the Warriors at the deadline in 2023. 

Payton's absence for much of the past season contributed to the Warriors' being a middle-of-the-pack defensive team and missing out on the playoffs. They finished 15th in the league in defensive rating (114.5) and were the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference, where they lost to the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the Play-In Tournament. 

Considering his recent injury problems, it's no surprise that Payton picked up the final year of his deal. If he had hit free agency this summer, there's little chance that he would have commanded a deal with an annual salary at or above $9 million per year. This way, he'll get his money and stick around with an organization that has faith in him. It remains to be seen if the Warriors will offer him an extension beyond next season, but it wouldn't be a surprise if they worked something out. 

Looking for more NBA coverage? John Gonzalez, Bill Reiter, Ashley Nicole Moss and special guests dive deep into the league's biggest storylines daily on the Beyond the Arc podcast.