Payne was waived by the San Antonio Spurs in September, clearing the way for him to join a contending team that can offer him a larger role. The Bucks transformed their roster Wednesday by acquiring Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers in a three-team trade that also involved the Phoenix Suns.
The Spurs acquired Payne along with a 2025 second-round draft pick and $5.6 million in a July trade with the Suns.
Payne had a productive postseason performance for the Suns last season.
Payne, 29, had a terrific run as a backup point guard to Chris Paul in Phoenix over the past three years. He had a 31-point performance in Game 6 of the 2023 Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets, and he started the final four games of the postseason for Phoenix. In a crucial two-game stretch in the Suns' 2021 NBA Finals run, Payne started for injured Paul and responded with an average of 20 points and nine assists, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Payne averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 assists in 48 games for the Suns last season. He has spent time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers since the Thunder selected him with the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.