Warriors Rumors: Gary Payton II Expected to Return from Elbow Injury for NBA Finals

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 27, 2022

Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) against the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Thursday, April 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II is reportedly expected to return from a fractured elbow during the 2022 NBA Finals.

Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported the update Friday, noting Payton could even be available for Game 1 on Thursday:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Warriors guard Gary Payton II (elbow fracture) is expected to return in the NBA Finals, sources say. Here's how soon: <a href="https://t.co/6TaaQri0Wc">pic.twitter.com/6TaaQri0Wc</a>

Payton suffered the injury May 3 during the Warriors' second-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies. He fell to the court after a hard foul by Memphis' Dillon Brooks, who was ejected for what Golden State head coach Steve Kerr described as a "dirty" play.

"Dillon Brooks broke the code," Kerr told reporters. "That's how I see it."

The 29-year-old guard confirmed last week Brooks has since reached out to him and they were able to clear the air.

"It's all good," Payton said. "It's a basketball play. I know he didn't mean it. No hard feelings, no bad blood."

The Warriors, who defeated the Denver Nuggets in the opening round, knocked out the Grizzlies in six games and eliminated the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night to punch their ticket to the Finals.

Getting Payton back early in the series would provide a boost to Golden State's championship hopes.

The Oregon State product emerged as a top-tier defender a lot like his father, Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton, during the 2021-22 season. He ranked tied for fourth among all NBA players in FiveThirtyEight's defensive Raptor metric (+4.7).

Payton can also provide efficient offensive contributions in limited touches, averaging 7.1 points in 71 regular-season appearances while shooting 61.6 percent from the floor.

The Warriors will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. The Celtics hold a 3-2 lead with Game 6 on Friday night.