For Suns backup point guard Cam Payne, it’s been a difficult journey to the NBA Finals. Payne was a first-round pick of the Oklahoma City Thunder back in 2015 out of Murray State. During his time with OKC, Payne struggled with injuries and was eventually traded to the Chicago Bulls.
The 26-year-old Payne again struggled with injuries with the Bulls. After two and half seasons with the Bulls, Payne was waived by Chicago. He would bounce around the NBA and be out of the league in 2019.
The five-year veteran eventually went to China and the G League.
“Everybody in my family, they’ve seen me play,’ Payne said during media availability on Monday. “They always want to see me play. So, for me, it kind of hurt to go back home, and everybody ask you, what you doing? Who you playing with next year? It would be questions like that, that kind of — you’re like, man, I ain’t really trying to answer that question. Obviously, I’m trying to work out. Obviously, I’m trying to make a team. So, it’s a lot of things that come with working hard, and those are one of the pillars for me, people asking what you’re doing, who you going to play with next year, little things like that always in the back of my head when I’m working out because I never want to be back at the bottom, going to China and stuff like that. It’s just built me a little different coming in on this next go-round. So just keep my head down, keep working, do it for the name on the back of my jersey and keep my head up. That’s about it.”
Ultimately, Payne got another shot. On June 30, 2020, Payne was signed by the Suns as they entered the bubble in Orlando. Phoenix went 8-0 in the bubble, and Payne was solid, averaging 10.9 points and 3.0 assists per game. This season, Payne was solid, but his real impact came in the playoffs, more specifically, the Western Conference finals.
Without Chris Paul(health & safety protocols) in Games 1 and 2 against the Clippers, Payne came up big. He was steady in Phoenix’s Game 1 win and broke out in Game 2. Payne had a career-high(playoff or regular season) 29 points to go along with nine assists and helped the Suns take a 2-0 series against the Clippers. Phoenix may not have defeated Los Angeles without the contributions of Payne.
6/30/2020: Payne signed by the Suns
6/30/2021: Suns defeat Clippers to advance to the NBA Finals.
According to Payne, being in the NBA Finals is totally unexpected.
“To be honest, when I first signed, I just wanted to be able to get some time in the bubble and try to make someone’s roster next — this season, basically,” he said. “I had a pretty good bubble run. I didn’t think all this was going to come about, us making it to the Finals. I kind of feel like we were going to be able to make the playoffs, but here? No, not even a little bit. It’s a crazy roller coaster this thing here. Life’s crazy. So I just put the work in, put the time in, prayed on it, everything, and I’m just going to keep on doing the same thing, and hopefully, we can come in on top.”
No one expected this from the Suns and Payne, but for him to be at this moment, at this point, is a testament to hard work and dedication. Now, he’s four wins away from an NBA title. What a difference a year makes.
Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul gave the team everything he had on Tuesday night in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers, but he was clearly hampered after injuring his shoulder in the team’s Game 1 victory.
In 23 minutes last night, Paul had six points and five assists in the Suns’ 109-102 loss to the Lakers at Phoenix Suns Arena. With the win, the Lakers evened the series 1-1. The series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 starting on Thursday night.
Without Paul, the Suns got solid production from backup point guard Cameron Payne, who scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter in Game 2. Payne, who also added six assists against the Lakers, was signed by the Suns before the bubble last season and performed well during the team’s eight-game run in Orlando.
While Payne got an opportunity on Tuesday night, he was disappointed for Paul.
“It’s always tough to see anybody on our team down,” Payne said. “We’ll get him back. It was tough, but we got next man mentality. Everybody gotta be ready.”
After trailing by 15 points in the third quarter, the Suns took their first lead in the second half in the fourth quarter with Payne on the court. According to Payne, the Suns have that never say die attitude.
“I feel like we have been in those positions before,” Payne said about the team coming from behind. “We just feel like we can win every game, so we just keep willing.”
The 26-year-old Payne has bounced around the NBA during his five-year career, including spending time in the G League and overseas. Payne, who averaged 8.4 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game this season, wants to stay in the NBA, and he will do everything in his power to make sure that happens.
“Before, I would probably say I was comfortable,” he said. “I listened; I just didn’t take it in… I work hard; I work to keep my job. I gotta earn it all, so I go in humble but confident. I just have to keep working hard, and the work shows. Go in and get my reps. He(Monty Williams) got this quote, “Reps remove doubt.” When I get out there on the court, I put the work in… Your job could be gone. It hit me in the face already. I got hit with that reality check, and I don’t want to not be in the league, so I just work really hard every day to stay here.”
With how things are looking for Paul, Payne will have a great opportunity with the Suns, and they’re going to need him to be at his very best if they want to advance. The goal is to get Paul healthy, but if that does not happen, it’s on Payne to try to help pull Phoenix through.
We will be talking sports and having fun doing it. We were joined by Phoenix Suns PG Cam Payne who talked the following:
-Jamal Murray-Donovan Mitchell
-OKC-Rockets-His time with his Suns in the bubble
-Devin Booker-Suns’ chances of making the playoffs next season
-Russell Westbrook triple-double season, his dance with Westbrook
-Life in the bubble
-Thunder losing to Warriors in WCF after being up 3-1
-What Payne needs to do to stay consistent
Watch interview here:
Listen to interview here:
The Cavaliers have waived guard Patrick McCaw. McCaw (6-7, 185) appeared in three games for the Cavs this season after signing with the team on December 28.
Cleveland signed guard Cameron Payne to a 10-day contract, the team announced today.
Payne (6-3, 190) played in 31 games (12 starts) for the Chicago Bulls this season, averaging 5.7 points and 2.7 assists in 17.3 minutes per game. Over his NBA career, the fourth-year guard has appeared in 144 contests (27 starts) with Chicago and Oklahoma City, holding averages of 5.8 points and 2.5 assists in 15.8 minutes per game. Payne played collegiately at Murray State University and was the 14th overall pick by the Thunder in the 2015 NBA Draft.