We’ve known for a while — ever since a four-team trade got delayed — that Gary Payton II wouldn’t be playing a game for the Golden State Warriors anytime soon. The hope was always that he could return for the playoffs, and ideally a little bit before then to begin the process of reintegrating himself with the offensive and defensive systems that he flourished in a year ago.
None of that has changed, but as the season winds down, Payton is, predictably, getting closer. The Warriors released an injury update earlier this week stating that Payton has “started various on-court activities,” and that he “will begin to intensify the on-court workouts in the coming days.”
He’ll be re-evaluated next Thursday, March 23.
It’s unlikely that that Payton will be good to go as soon as he’s re-evaluated, but if so, the Dubs next game would be the next day, Friday, March 24 against the Philadelphia 76ers. That’s the first home game following a five-game road trip that begins tonight, so it would be a pretty exciting time to return.
In all, the Warriors have eight regular season games after GPII’s re-evaluation, so hopefully he’s able to return for some of them. I wouldn’t expect Payton to need much time to get comfortable on the court again, given how well he fits the system, but a little time to shake off rust is always helpful ... and the Warriors are going to need to squeeze every last win that they can out of the schedule.
Let’s hope the return is soon.