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Elfrid Payton: ‘Be ready for whatever happens’

Does the newest Suns guard want to stay in Phoenix?

NBA: Orlando Magic at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Elfrid Payton started this season on a team that is presently 18-38 and holds the second worst record in the Eastern Conference. That’s the Orlando Magic.

Remarkably, last week he was traded to a team with a worse record tied with the Dallas Mavericks in the basement of the Western Conference. That’s your Phoenix Suns.

That much losing has to be some kind of record for a guy traded in-season. I lack the patience or time to research such a statistic, but you should look into it and let me know the answer.

Payton joined Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype to discuss his interesting journey through the 2017-18 season. Here are some highlights. Then click on Mr. Kennedy’s article because it is the noble thing to do.

In the days leading up to the deadline, did you expect to be traded or did the move catch you off guard?

Elfrid Payton: Well, my mindset this whole season has been to be ready for whatever happens. I knew a trade was possible, especially having a new GM and president of basketball operations in Orlando. Because they didn’t draft me, I always understood there was a chance that they’d want to bring in their own guy. So the whole year, I was basically prepared for anything.

When you saw that you were traded for a second-round pick, what was your reaction? Did you feel disrespected at all?

EP: I mean… A little bit. I think a lot of other people were more upset about it than I was, though. Others took it to heart more than I did, but that’s just because of the type of person I am. I’m pretty nonchalant and I don’t really get worked up, so it wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. I’ve always felt underrated and felt like I have to prove myself. I’m the kind of player who feels like you have to prove yourself every single night – no matter what you’ve done or who you are – because in this league everyone is thinking, “What have you done for me lately?” So it wasn’t too big of a deal to me.

(Long pause) It was kind of crazy, though. I’ve seen a lot of people say that it was a steal for Phoenix and stuff like that; I guess time will tell. I heard they were offered a lot more than a second-round pick [from other teams], but they just didn’t decide to do one of those other trades… I don’t know all of the details, but I know they had offers from a team in the East and a different West Coast team other than Phoenix.

You’re a pass-first point guard and you’ve never averaged fewer than six assists per game in a season. Looking at this Suns squad, you’re going to have a lot of weapons at your disposal.

EP: This team’s potential is really intriguing. They have so many talented, up-and-coming guys like Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, plus great vets like Jared Dudley and Tyson Chandler. I’m just excited to help them and put the ball in their hands. I’m obviously still learning where they each like the ball and all that, but I’m excited for the All-Star break because I’ll be able to get a few practices in with these guys. We can start figuring things out and get rolling.

You haven’t gotten the chance to play with Devin Booker yet because he’s dealing with a hip injury, but I know fans in Phoenix are excited to see the two of you together. How excited are you to play alongside Devin and how good can you guys be as a backcourt pairing?

EP: I’m very excited to play with him. He’s a really great talent – someone who can shoot the ball extremely well, someone who can really score from anywhere on the court. I’m looking forward to trying to make the game even easier for him. I also think I can feed off of him because I know he’s going to draw a ton of attention from defenses. That will leave a lot of open opportunities for me, so I have to knock those shots down. I think we can be really good together. We definitely have a chance to be special. With Devin and TJ, those are guys who can really fill it up and put a ton of points on the board. I can’t wait until we’re all out there together.

There’s a lot of good stuff in Adam’s interview including a conversation Payton and T.J. Warren had before they were in league about playing together has professionals. So click on this link. Sportswriters have to eat too.

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