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Point guard Payton re-signs with Heat


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Gary Payton finally got one championship, yet still wants to chase another.


The veteran guard signed a one-year deal Wednesday to return to the Miami Heat, meaning the defending NBA champions have every player from last season's regular postseason rotation under contract for the coming year.


Payton -- a 38-year-old, nine-time All-Star who played 16 seasons before winning his first title last June -- was expected to sign a deal worth about $1.2 million, or slightly more than the veterans' minimum salary.


Payton averaged 7.7 points in the regular season, then 5.8 in Miami's playoff run. He made 25 regular-season starts, plus often was the Heat's point guard of choice in the fourth quarter -- and could be especially valuable early this season, with Jason Williams still recovering from offseason knee surgery.


The move was far from unexpected; Payton said often at the end of last season that he planned to return.


Payton averaged only 2.7 points against Dallas in the NBA Finals but was among Miami's biggest heroes in that series -- after hitting two key late-game shots that fueled Heat victories.


In Game 3, with the Heat down 2-0, Payton hit a jumper from the right wing in the waning seconds to cap a 98-96 comeback win by Miami -- which wouldn't lose another game from there. In Game 5, his layup with 29.8 seconds left helped the Heat eke out a 101-100 win, and two nights later, the championship trophy was in his hands.


Miami is Payton's fifth team, but the first that asked him primarily to be a backup; he started all but six games in his career before last season. Over his career, he has averaged 16.9 points, 6.9 assists and 1.9 steals, plus ranks among the league's all-time leaders in steals (2,402), assists (8,765), minutes (45,614) and points (21,455).






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IMO he should have retired and gone out on top...at this point, what else is there to play for? He's a surefire Hall of Famer, but way past his prime and is at this point mediocre...he won a championship, and there are no records or milestones within his reach...hopefully he doesn't turn into one of those guys who stick around to the point where it just becomes embarassing

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Whatever, people. He hit a couple of big shots for us, and we probably don't win anything if those shots don't drop. I'm sure we could find a half dozen other guys to give us the same things that Payton gives us, but what would be the point? Payton knows this system now, and he can still contribute.


Why should he retire if he wants to keep playing?

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