Gary Payton II has spoken publicly for the first time since the controversial NBA trade deadline deal that sent him from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Golden State Warriors.
The debate surrounding the trade initially jeopardized the four-team deal involving the two franchises, plus the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, a swap made on February 9, but not affirmed until 72 hours after.
A day after the trade was announced, The Athletic’s Shams Charania stated Payton had failed his physical with Golden State. The Warriors reportedly claimed that Portland didn’t disclose important information about Payton’s health during trade negotiations.
There was also a report of the Blazers giving Payton II given Toradol injections, which was later clarified as administered orally, a much more common and benign practice.
Even after going through, the trade is still subject to an NBA review.
Speaking to media earlier today, Payton II acknowledged that he was still suffering lingering pain and was not surprised by the failed physical.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since he was traded, Gary Payton II said he’s been dealing with “lingering pain” stemming from his offseason core surgery. He wasn’t surprised the Warriors medical staff flagged his physical, and he hopes to be back before the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/kJvE1lm556— Madeline Kenney (@madkenney) February 23, 2023
“It was just lingering pain from the surgery that just that I was trying to work on, you know get through. That was one of the games (Portland vs Golden State Warriors) that I wanted to play, I just thug it out but it was fine.”
“I hope so (be back before playoffs), we’re just going to take it day by day.”
“I kind of knew where my body was and how it was and everything.”
Blazers general manager Joe Cronin previously defended the organization’s handling of Payton’s recovery from surgery.
“Player safety is super important to us, it’s a super important thing around the league. We were playing him, he was playing. He had been cleared. We were confident that he was healthy when he was playing. We would not have brought him back if we thought he wasn’t healthy or he was at risk, so you trust that we did the right thing, and you trust that our process was correct. And these reports, I think... The clearance process was proper, so I’ll have to rely on that.”
A day after Josh Hart’s first game as a New York Knick — he was also traded by Portland prior to the trade deadline — Hart, unprompted by reporters, praised the Blazers organization and training staff.
“Portland as an organization was great, Joe Cronin has been great. That organization is nothing but a class act. In the front office, in the training room. And I just want to say that that organization is respectful, a class act and does everything by the book.”