Warriors Rumors: Gary Payton II Game-Time Decision for Finals Game 1 Due to Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 31, 2022

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 1:  TNT & NBA TV Reporter, Jared Greenberg, interviews Gary Payton II #0 of the Golden State Warriors after the game against the Memphis Grizzlies during Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 1, 2022 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Golden State Warriors wing Gary Payton II is reportedly a game-time decision for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday against the Boston Celtics, per Shams Charania of Stadium:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Warriors guard Gary Payton II is trending toward a game-time decision for Game 1 of the NBA Finals vs. Celtics on Thursday, sources say. Reporting now on the <a href="https://twitter.com/Stadium?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Stadium</a> Finals preview show: <a href="https://t.co/OcjSd1S9AI">https://t.co/OcjSd1S9AI</a>

Payton hasn't played for the Warriors since suffering a broken left elbow in the team's second-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Payton was injured in Game 2 of that series as he attempted a layup. He was fouled hard by Dillon Brooks, crashing to the floor, and Brooks received a Flagrant 2 and was ejected. He was also suspended for Game 3.

The foul earned Brooks the ire of Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

"I don't know if it was intentional, but it was dirty," he told reporters at the time. "There is a code. This code that players follow where you never put a guy's season [or] career in jeopardy by taking somebody out in midair and clubbing him across the head, ultimately fracturing Gary's elbow... He broke the code. Dillon Brooks broke the code."

Brooks said he wasn't trying to intentionally injure Payton after those remarks and said he wished he could take back the play. Payton, meanwhile, told reporters he's moved on from the incident and called it a "basketball play."

Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater

Gary Payton II on the flagrant foul that fractured his elbow: "NBA playoff foul. That's about it."<br><br>Payton said Dillon Brooks reached out to him: "We talked. It's all good. Basketball play. I know he didn't mean it."<br><br>Full soundbite <a href="https://t.co/p9O2WetiWg">pic.twitter.com/p9O2WetiWg</a>

Getting back Payton would be a nice boost for the Warriors, especially on the defensive end. The 29-year-old has also averaged 6.1 points in 15.9 minutes per game this postseason, appearing in seven contests (two starts).

The Warriors are also hoping to get back Andre Iguodala (cervical disc injury) and Otto Porter Jr. (left foot soreness) in time for the start of the NBA Finals. The veteran Iguodala has missed the last 12 games with his injury, while Porter was out the final two games of the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

"That's what we're aiming for but we'll have a better feel after the next couple of days of practice," Kerr told reporters Sunday about that trio returning for the Finals.