The long-awaited Portland Trail Blazers debut of Gary Payton II is finally here. The prized defensive guard isn’t listed on the injury report and is available to play against the Detroit Pistons tomorrow night, the team announced on Twitter.
INJURY REPORT 1/2 @trailblazers vs. DET:— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 2, 2023
Little (R Femoral Head Impaction Fracture)
Winslow (L Ankle Sprain)
Brown III (Non-Covid Illness)
Johnson (Non-Covid Illness)
Nurkic (Non-Covid Illness)
Payton underwent abdominal surgery in the offseason and initially hoped to be ready for the start of the regular season. On Dec. 12, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the 30-year-old expected to play in one-to-two weeks.
The two weeks came and went with Payton II still sitting on the sidelines. Prior to Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, Blazers coach Chauncey Billups told media that Payton II had been medically cleared to play but was still working on clearing mental hurdles. Now, it appears those hurdles have been cleared, too, or at least Payton II is willing to test them.
The Blazers signed Payton II to a three-year, $26 million contract in the offseason after he helped the Golden State Warriors win a title. He received his championship ring before Friday night’s game.