SAN FRANCISCO – Gary Payton II is active for the Warriors' game against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at Chase Center after missing the previous three games due to a strained left foot.
There was optimism Payton would play after being upgraded to probable Thursday night. However, shortly after Friday morning’s shootaround, Payton was downgraded to questionable.
Payton said after shootaround that a few boxes still needed to be checked and that he was about to go through some more tests, and he admittedly still was dealing with some soreness.
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“Once I get back to feeling normal and strengthen my sensitivity, it'll be fine,” Payton said.
The veteran guard/forward cleared the required hurdles and should be able to play as the Warriors look to stay alive in the In-Season Tournament.
The Warriors’ lock-down defensive anchor sustained the injury early in the second quarter of the Warriors’ 128-109 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chase Center on Nov. 16. The Warriors were down by 11 points when Payton hit the deck, and wound up losing by 19. Payton tipped an inbounds pass from Chet Holmgren, caught his own steal and was fouled by Holmgren as he went for a contested layup. That’s when Payton’s hustle was his own worst enemy.
Following his missed layup attempt, Payton jumped to put it back in after the whistle blew but came down on Holmgren’s left foot and rolled his left ankle. Payton immediately grabbed his left ankle and stayed on the floor in pain. He initially stayed in the game, missed his first free throw and then made his second.
Golden State Warriors
But about a minute-and-a-half later, Payton angrily threw his headband to the ground during a timeout, jogged down the tunnel and was followed by director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini. He was then ruled out for the game during halftime, and X-rays came back negative.
"Can't check in,” Payton said when asked what has been the hardest part of his recent absence. “Can't go help on late plays and change energy, change the tune of the game. But our second unit's doing a hell of a job coming in with energy and effort, changing the game and spicing them when we need to get things going.
“That's probably the biggest thing, just not being able to for my guys and my staff."
Golden State has gone 1-3 in the four games Payton has missed this season, as well as the Warriors’ blowout loss to OKC in the game he sustained his short-term injury. Steve Kerr and the rest of his Warriors coaching staff will be more than happy to have Payton back in the fold.
Payton through 12 games played this season is averaging 6.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in 17.3 minutes a night as one of the Warriors’ most important players on defense, and someone whose versatility always is felt on either side of the court.