5. Cameron Payne
Austin Rivers has taken on the role of the Rockets’ reserve who can create his own shot for the last several years, which is a necessary ingredient for when James Harden and/or Russell Westbrook aren’t on the floor. Rivers has a player’s option for the 2020-21 season worth $2.37 million, which is a number he could certainly exceed on the open market.
Assuming Rivers leaves the franchise, the Rockets will need to find a reserve guard that can fill his void, while also being content with making the veterans-minimum. Enter Cameron Payne, who played alongside Russell Westbrook for two seasons, when the duo played for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Payne has played for three teams in five seasons in the NBA and posted career highs during the 2019-20 season as a member of the Phoenix Suns, albeit on a small sample size of just eight games. Payne averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and three assists, while making 51.7 percent of his threes, which was a team-best for the Phoenix Suns, and would have ranked first on the Houston Rockets during the 2019-20 season as well.
Payne posted a true shooting percentage of 61.2 percent, which was also a career-best for the 26-year-old guard. Payne holds a player option for the 2020-21 season with the Phoenix Suns, which is worth $1.98 million.
Payne has been in the NBA for five seasons, which would have raised his salary by five percent under the veterans-minimum scale during the 2019-20 season. With the Suns still in rebuilding mode, Payne could be tempted to join a Western Conference contender such as the Houston Rockets, and he’d provide a steady contributor off the bench for the Rockets.
Next: No. 4