Warriors' Gary Payton II probable for Sunday return after abdominal injury: 'I'm starting to feel like myself'
Gary Payton failed his physical with the Warriors shortly after the team acquired him in February.
Gary Payton II is ready to make his latest debut with the Golden State Warriors.
Payton is considered probable for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves after dealing with an adductor injury, the team said on Saturday. Payton was re-evaluated on Wednesday, and has “intensified his on-court workouts” in recent days.
Payton scrimmaged on Friday with the team, and was a full participant in practice on Saturday. Unless there’s a setback between now and tipoff on Sunday, Payton will play.
"I'm starting to feel like myself," Payton said Saturday, via ESPN. "I missed a lot of games this year so I'm just ready to get back out on the court with the guys and wrap this up for the homestretch."
The Warriors landed Payton just before the trade deadline in a four-team deal. Payton returned to Golden State from the Portland Trail Blazers. The Warriors sent James Wiseman, the former No. 2 overall pick, to the Detroit Pistons.
Payton failed a physical with the Warriors after the trade, which prompted a league investigation into the issue. Payton had abdominal surgery last summer and missed the first 35 games of the season while recovering. The Trail Blazers reportedly “pushed” him to play through the injury, but he appeared in just 15 games before Portland traded him.
"At the beginning of the year, working through the little pains and bumps and bruises from the offseason, I feel pretty good," Payton said, via ESPN. "Every day getting my body right, a little maintenance, fine-tuning, we had a little extra time to do all of that and get [my body] where it needs to be."
Payton signed a three-year, $26 million deal with the Trail Blazers last summer. The 30-year-old averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds last season with the Warriors, and was instrumental in their NBA championship run and eventual win over the Boston Celtics.
The Warriors enter Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves with a 39-36 overall record, which is good for sixth in the Western Conference standings — though that’s just half a game behind the Los Angeles Clippers and 1.5 games better than both the Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers, who trail behind in play-in spots. The Warriors have seven games left in the regular season.