The Golden State Warriors earned an impressive and much-needed win on Tuesday night, taking down a talented, energetic, and exceptionally tall Orlando Magic team 121-115. But the win came at a cost: guard Gary Payton II limped to the locker room in the third quarter, and was later ruled out for the rest of the game with a left hamstring strain.
Predictably, the bad news continued into the next day. According to a report from Shams Charania, Payton is expected to miss “several weeks” due to the severity of the strain.
Warriors G/F Gary Payton II will miss several weeks due to a left hamstring strain, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Tough blow for Golden State and Payton, who just returned over the weekend after missing one month with calf injury. pic.twitter.com/KsRpbtgfvA— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 3, 2024
It’s a brutal blow for Payton, who was playing in just his second game since returning from a right calf strain that cost him 13 games. And it’s a tough loss for the Warriors, who are trying to figure out how to get their defense going and are once again left with neither Payton nor Draymond Green, who is still serving his indefinite suspension.
Payton has had a tough go of injury luck since being a critical member of the 2021-22 Warriors team that won the NBA Finals. He parlayed that performance into a three-year, $26.1 million contract with the Portland Trail Blazers, but an abdominal injury limited him to just 15 games with the team before he was traded back to the Warriors at the deadline. He remained sidelined for about six weeks after the trade, before returning to the court to play the final seven games of the regular season plus the postseason.
GPII looked completely healthy at the start of the year, but things have gone downhill since. An illness kept him out of an early-November game, while a foot strain sidelined him for three games in the middle of the month. He then injured his calf during a November 28 loss to the Sacramento Kings, and that kept him out until Saturday.
Now he’s back to the sidelines and, based on his reaction on Tuesday, justifiably frustrated.
Let’s hope he can get healthy soon and, more importantly, let’s hope he can stay healthy. The team needs it, and more importantly, GPII deserves it.