After months languishing in recovery from abdominal surgery, Portland Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II made his season debut to great effect on Monday night against the Detroit Pistons. He played 13 minutes off the bench, notching seven points and four assists while meshing well with teammates – particularly rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe.
The Trail Blazers went on to win the game 135-106.
Afterward, Payton was available to speak with media members about his recovery and debut.
On the recovery process
Frustrating. Frustrating. Period. Just frustration. I was just tired of watching all my guys out there, and the only way I can play and help is by (going) out there and just playing. So, I think that was the biggest part of the frustration is just I can’t be out there at that moment, you know, just to help my team. But, now that I’m here, we had a hell of a game. Especially in the second half. We were just flying everywhere, and I just think that energy is contagious and got everybody going. Shaedon picking up full court now, so I like that a lot in him, and, you know, just being disruptive. He’s got to stop fouling a lot but he’s doing a nice job.
On Shaedon Sharpe
Everybody helps mold the young fellas, but, especially in a game, things move to fast or their just still picking up the speed of the game, and all they really need is somebody just to guide them and, you know, just to talk to them. I had it growing up in this league and, you know, just pass it down naturally. But he listens and that’s one of the biggest things with him is he’s coachable, so that’s going to help him along the way.
Yeah, that’s more on CB (Chauncey Billups). I already told him that, you know, if you need me in situations, I don’t care about them 12 minutes. If we got to do something at the end of games or whatever, let’s just get it and get the win. I think we are on the same page with that and so is the training staff. I’m not going to kill myself and I know that they won’t let me kill myself, so I’m available.
Payton was a key defensive contributor for the Golden State Warriors in the 2021-22 NBA season. The Trail Blazers are hopeful that he can replicate that tenacity here in Portland and help elevate the team to higher levels of success. He’s off to a good start.