Gary Payton II probable to make needed Warriors return vs. Timberwolves
GP2 probable to play vs. Wolves in highly anticipated return originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Gary Payton II was a full participant in Warriors practice for the first time Saturday since being re-acquired at the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline. The wait very well could be over.
The Warriors are listing Payton as probable for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Payton will warm up with the intention of playing.
“Today was a light practice, but he scrimmaged yesterday and felt good,” coach Steve Kerr said Saturday after Warriors practice.
Payton has missed the Warriors’ last 20 games. He last played on Feb. 8 as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, ironically against the Warriors in Portland, resulting in a three-point Golden State loss. Payton played 22 minutes in the Blazers’ win, scoring nine points with three rebounds and one steal.
Upon coming to San Francisco, Payton surprisingly failed his physical due to a right adductor/core injury stemming from offseason surgery. The Warriors immediately shut him down for a month. His workouts have continued to intensify, and now the Warriors’ win-now move could be back on the court with seven regular-season games remaining.
With the Blazers this season, Payton averaged 4.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 15 games. His one start was his final game with Portland against the Warriors.
Payton, 30, played 71 regular-season games for the Warriors last season and averaged 7.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals while also making 35.8 percent of his 3-point attempts. He’s incredibly unique as someone who can guard multiple positions at 6-foot-4, but he plays more of a power forward for the Warriors and owns the dunker role on offense.
His versatility is why the Warriors moved on from a 21-year-old James Wiseman as part of a four-team, four-player trade.
RELATED: How GP2 already has made impact on Warriors before playing
The Warriors are on a three-game win streak and currently sit as the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference with a 39-36 record. They now have more wins the No. 5-seeded Phoenix Suns (38-35) and the same amount of wins as the No. 4-seeded Los Angeles Clippers (39-35). Both play Saturday.
Now is the time for the Warriors to round into form, and their defensive stopper is ready to make his impact.
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