Cameron Payne was out of the NBA after two 10-day contracts during the later part of the 18-19 season. Payne reluctantly played in Summer League in 2019, which led to a camp invite with the Toronto Raptors, but he ended up going to China after he was cut.
Payne played in just two games in China before he called his agent willing to return to the United States to play in the G League.
"This is why you can't take nothing for granted in the NBA," Payne said. "Appreciate the little things. They can be gone quick."
Payne averaged 24 points and eight assists per game for the Texas Legends before COVID-19 shut down the season. As the restart approached, the Dallas Mavericks reached out that they were going to have Trey Burke on their roster instead of him.
"That's gonna be it for me," Payne thought at the time.
The Phoenix Suns then reached out with interest. Monty Williams coached Payne as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder early in his career.
Payne is averaging 8 points and 3.5 assists on 48% shooting, including 43% from deep to become one of the league's better rotation players.
While Payne is back in the NBA, he won't feel fully back until he signs his next contract this offseason.
"Not until I sign that next deal," Payne said.