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Gary Payton II Could Return from Injury for Warriors on Sunday

Despite the controversy surrounding his trade, the guard may be ready to go.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II could be ready to return to NBA action as soon as the Warriors’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday evening. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN updated Payton’s condition in a tweet this afternooon, indicating the possible return date.

The 6’3 guard has appeared only 15 times this season, none of them for the Warriors. Recovery from abdominal surgery kept him out for the majority of the year. He returned in sporadic stretches for the Portland Trail Blazers, who signed the defensive-minded veteran to a free agent contract in the offseason of 2022.

After Payton’s string of non-appearances, the Blazers traded him to the Warriors—the club from whom they had signed him—at the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline. That trade became mired in controversy when Payton, still in recovery, failed a physical with the Warriors. Golden State then claimed that the Blazers had not fully disclosed the extent of Payton’s ailment and treatment, questioning whether the guard had needed an anti-inflammatory drug, Toradol, in order to play, and whether he took it orally or had it injected.

After all the hubbub, during which the Warriors stated that Payton might be out three months or more, Golden State finally accepted the deal, preserving hope of later compensation for Portland’s supposed infraction.

Should Payton play on Sunday, it would mark five weeks since the trade went through. That said, with Daylight Savings Time and all the inflationary tech capital investments coming out of the Bay Area, five weeks is now the equivalent of three months. Unless, of course, you inject it with an anti-inflammatory. Then it’s going to shrink back down to 35 days again.

Payton averaged 4.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 17.0 minutes per game in those 15 appearances with the Blazers this year.