Predicting where the NBA's top 20 free agents will play in 2024–25

ESPN released a ranking of the top 20 names in the 2024 NBA free agency pool, and here is where they may all play in 2024–25.
Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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14. Gary Payton II - Golden State Warriors

This might be among the more open and shut cases on this entire list. It would be flat-out shocking if Gary Payton II was playing anywhere other than Golden State next season. He holds a player option worth $8.7 million for the 2024-25 season; he almost certainly will not decline that, instead opting to stick around with the Golden State Warriors for at least one more season.

If Payton declines that option, he would almost certainly not find a better offer elsewhere. While he's proven to be a capable contributor in a reserve role, Payton has played more than 44 games once in his eight-year playing career thus far. He's consistently been hit with the injury bug, so teams may be shy about handing him big money like the Warriors would be doing if he opted into his contract.

The 31-year-old will likely accept his option swiftly and stick it out with Golden State. If he stays on the healthier side next season and plays his role well, perhaps he could cash out the following year, but it wouldn't be smart for him to try and do so this off-season unless he simply wants a change of scenery above all else, but there haven't been any rumblings about that.