Payne has averaged 2.7 points, 2.0 rebounds in 9.5 minutes per game over 30 appearances for the Wolves this year. Minnesota acquired the 6-10 forward from Atlanta in a trade last February. Payne played in 29 games last season for the Wolves and averaged 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Payne has been skirting on the edge of the rotation most of the season. He has lost playing time as Wolves coach Sam Mitchell has been finding more minutes for Nemanja Bjelica. Nikola Pekovic's return from injury also added another big man to the rotation.
Payne heads to Erie on what's called a flexible assignment – meaning they had to find a D League team willing to take him and play him significant minutes.
It's the same type of assignment the Wolves used earlier this season with Tyus Jones, when he was sent to Idaho. It's Jones who will likely benefit the most from Payne's departure.
According to Canis Hoopus, it is likely Payne's stay in the D League will be short. The blog predicts that he'll likely return to Minnesota in the next couple of weeks.
It's not the former Michigan State standout's first trip to the D League. The Star Tribune notes that Payne played games for D League teams Fort Wayne, Indiana and Austin, Texas, before Atlanta traded him to the Wolves.