LAS VEGAS—It’s not common for a four-year NBA veteran to come out to the Las Vegas desert to try and prove himself at Summer League. That’s exactly what Cameron Payne is doing, though. In three games, the unrestricted free agent is proving that he deserves the chance to make an NBA roster again.
Thus far, Payne is averaging 20 points, five rebounds, four assists, and 2.7 steals for the Dallas Mavericks. He’s also connecting on 51 percent of his looks in 29 minutes per game as a starter. His best performance came Monday against the Sacramento Kings.
After blowing a double-digit lead in the second half, Payne put the Mavericks on his back. As the Kings tried to pull away, Payne kept the Mavericks within striking distance with his outside shooting. He drained five three-pointers in the fourth quarter as Dallas tried to make a furious comeback.
“He obviously got it going there,” Mavericks Summer League head coach Mike Weinar said. “We were trying to get it to him. The problems is, they know that too. They scout. They understand who’s got it going…We tried to get him off the ball, get him back to it.”
Payne’s shot didn’t leave him, but it wasn’t enough in the end. Sacramento won 105-101, dropping the summer Mavericks to 2-1. Despite his head-turning 32-point performance, Payne wasn’t happy about the loss. He knows that the best thing that can happen to him—and his teammates—is to win. That’s what really makes people take notice, especially when he’s trying to find a new home in the league.
“The biggest thing is the opportunity to come out and play well,” Payne said. “The main thing, try to win it all. I feel like if we win, everyone gets the opportunity to be looked at. I’m just here trying to help the team win and just get a look.”