The Reporter (Vacaville)
Warriors waiting on Payton II
He'll be out at least a month after Golden State reacquired him last week
The Warriors' lone trade deadline addition won't be on the floor for at least another month.
Gary Payton II, whom the Warriors acquired in a fourteam deal at last week's trade deadline, is dealing with an abdominal injury discovered by the team's medical staff during a routine physical and will be reevaluated in March.
Golden State initially put the trade, which shipped former lottery pick James Wiseman to Detroit, on hold after learning that Payton would miss significant time with the injury.
Warriors president of basketball operations and general manager Bob Myers on Monday couldn't say whether the injury stemmed from Payton's offseason surgery to repair his core muscle. But the hope is that he'll be good to go in time for the playoffs.
“We need him,” Myers said. “Hopefully at some point, he comes back and can help us because I do believe if he does get back, there's a role for him. I think coaches and players think that, too.”
The NBA has launched an investigation into whether the Portland Trail Blazers failed to disclose pertinent medical information during the trade discussions after the Warriors filed a complaint with the league office over the weekend.
Myers said he couldn't go into detail about those allegations for legal reasons. It's unclear how long the league's review will take. If the Warriors' concerns are vindicated, Portland could face penalties in the form of a fine or loss of draft picks.
“What do I want? Whatever the NBA says is fair, just whatever that is, just want a fair result,” Myers said.
Payton missed the first 35 games of the season, but played 14 of the last 16 games for the Trail Blazers, including 22 minutes in Portland's win over Golden State the night before the Thursday trade deadline. That's part of the reason the Warriors were so caught off guard by Payton's failed physical.
Nevertheless, the Warriors ultimately concluded Sunday it was best to keep the trade intact, sending Wiseman to the Pistons, as forward Saddiq Bey went from Detroit to Atlanta. Former Piston Kevin Knox landed in Portland along with five second-round picks.
Parting ways with Wiseman, the Warriors' highest draft pick since 1995 and a crown jewel of the team's coveted two-timeline plan, was a difficult decision that the front office made after heavy internal debate. Myers said he still has faith Wiseman can develop into the player they thought he'd be when they picked him No. 2 overall in 2020. But with a logjam at his position and the Warriors prioritizing winning, he wasn't afforded the in-game reps he needed to grow.
“We didn't see a path even upon return,” Myers said of Wiseman. “He wasn't playing at the time and additionally, our situation is a little different because of the amount of money each player costs and so if we'd seen a path for James upon return that had changed, we might've considered that.
“We've seen what Gary can do. And it's not any kind of indictment of James, it's a hard rotation to crack on this team. And so Gary seeing the fit, seeing the need, our defensive and things like that.”
Payton's familiarity and proven track record of success within the Warriors' system were among the several selling points. Another added bonus is that the Warriors will save roughly $37 million in luxury tax after moving from Wiseman's growing salary.
While Payton will help the Warriors, especially on defense, the team knows he alone can't be the saving grace to turn its underwhelming season around.
It doesn't help that the Warriors have been plagued by injuries over the last few months. Stephen Curry (leg sprain) and Andre Iguodala (hip strain) are out indefinitely. Andrew Wiggins, who's had a rough three-month stretch of injuries and sickness, is questionable for Monday night's game against Washington with an ankle sprain. And now their newest piece, Payton, is sidelined, too.