Warriors expect Gary Payton to miss at least one month

ByKendra Andrews ESPN logo
Monday, February 13, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- After going through with a four-team trade that allowed Gary Payton II to pass his physical exam despite doctors' concerns about his injured abdomen, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Payton is "not ready to play right now" and will be reevaluated in one month.

The team hopes to have him return in time for the playoffs.

Golden State initially held up the trade -- which sent James Wiseman to Detroit, Saddiq Bey to Atlanta and Kevin Knox to Portland -- and filed a complaint to the NBA, requesting the league investigate the Trail Blazers' alleged failure to provide relevant pre-agreement medical information, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Myers said he couldn't speak about the specifics of the investigation for legal reasons, but sources told Wojnarowski that Portland did not inform Golden State that Payton was using the pain-killing medication Toradol to alleviate pain in his abdomen.

The NBA could punish Portland with a fine and loss of draft picks if an investigation were to discover "a failure to disclose relevant information," sources told Wojnarowski.

"What do I want [from the investigation process]? Whatever the NBA says is fair," Myers said Monday. "I just want a fair result."

Payton missed the first 35 games of the season after having abdomen surgery over the summer. Myers said the Warriors were not involved in the planning of that operation before Payton left Golden State for Portland. Myers also said the fact that Payton missed a large chunk of the early season didn't raise any flags for the Warriors heading into the trade deadline, as they thought he was healthy.

"We looked at the fact that he started the night before [the trade deadline] against our team... I didn't factor in the thought that he'd be out as long as he will be," Myers said.

The Warriors had until 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday to decide whether they would proceed with acquiring Payton or call off the entire trade. Because the deal was made at the deadline, no amendments could be made to the trade package and either the four-team trade would go through as originally agreed upon or the entire deal would be called off.

However, Myers said they had come to their conclusion to go through with the trade by Saturday evening. Payton was seen sitting with Myers and assistant general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. at the Warriors' game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.

Golden State thought about the different options they had but ultimately decided to go through with it. One big factor was the possible return of Wiseman, the team's 2020 No. 2 pick, whom they had dealt to the Pistons as part of this trade.

"James, we didn't see a path, even upon return," Myers said. "He wasn't playing at the time. And additionally, our situation is a little different because of the amount of money each player costs. So if we'd seen a path for James upon return that had changed, we might have considered that."

Myers said the Warriors debated heavily on the decision to trade Wiseman but ultimately decided Golden State couldn't give him the playing time he needs and prioritized someone who could contribute in the immediate future. They hoped Payton -- who played an integral role in their 2021-22 title run -- would do that, especially on defense.

"Our system is not simple. ... The hope is that when Gary comes back, there is some familiarity," Myers said. "We've seen how much he helps us."

Without Wiseman and Payton -- whom the Warriors often played in the dunker spot -- the Warriors' depth in the frontcourt is shallow, particularly at center. Myers said Golden State could test the buyout market for another big man but see that as the only solution.

"It doesn't matter if he's 7 feet tall or 8 feet tall. Any buyout conversation has to be done in collaboration with the coaching staff. Because why bring a player in if they're not going to use him," Myers said. "But if there's a player the coaching staff and front office think can be helpful, absolutely, we'll go target that guy."

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