Gary Payton II

Gary Payton II Still At Least Two Weeks Away From Blazers Debut

Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II has been experiencing “intermittent soreness” during his rehab from core muscle surgery as he ramps up for a return to play, the team announced today in a press release.

According to the Blazers, Payton will continue his rehab work in anticipation of returning to full practice. He’ll be reevaluated in two weeks, meaning he won’t make his Portland debut until at least December.

The Blazers’ statement doesn’t use the term “setback,” and their wording doesn’t suggest that Payton has suffered a new injury or aggravated a core muscle issue.

Still, when the surgery was first announced in September, the team indicated the veteran guard was expected to be ready for the start of the season, and there was a sense at the start of the month that he could be ready to play as soon as November 15, so his rehab process is taking a little longer than anticipated.

The Blazers haven’t missed a beat with Payton unavailable. Their 10-5 record puts them atop the Western Conference, and their 109.9 defensive rating is the seventh-best mark in the NBA. Given Payton’s lock-down ability as a perimeter defender, that unit should only improve once he’s ready to play.

With Payton out until at least December, the Blazers will continue to lean heavily on Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons in the backcourt, with Josh Hart and rookie Shaedon Sharpe also playing regular roles.

Injury Notes: GPII, Beal, Allen, Holiday, Connaughton, O. Porter

Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II, who is recovering from abdominal surgery, is getting closer to a return, but isn’t quite ready to make his regular season debut, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

“He’s still progressing,” head coach Chauncey Billups said after the Trail Blazers practiced on Monday. “Not ready to play yet. He’s doing more and more. I don’t have a timeline.”

As Fentress details, Payton traveled with the Blazers during their six-game road trip that concluded on Saturday and said last week that he was “close.” However, the team is taking a cautious approach and wants to ensure that the veteran guard is 100% healthy before he takes the court.

Payton signed a three-year, $26MM+ contract in July with the Blazers, who have played well even without one of their top offseason additions available. Their 9-4 record puts them in a tie for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Here are a few more health-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Wizards star Bradley Beal will return to action on Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City after missing five games due to COVID-19 and reconditioning, tweets Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.
  • Although J.B. Bickerstaff‘s comments on Sunday suggested the Cavaliers hoped Jarrett Allen would be back for Wednesday’s game vs. the Bucks, Chris Fedor of (Twitter link) hears from a source that Allen isn’t expected to travel to Milwaukee with the team.
  • In a Twitter thread, Eric Nehm of The Athletic provides a series of health-related updates on Bucks players, noting that Jrue Holiday (ankle sprain) and Pat Connaughton (calf strain) both practiced on Tuesday, though their statuses for Wednesday’s game vs. the Cavs are to be determined. Holiday has missed Milwaukee’s last three contests, while Connaughton hasn’t played yet this season.
  • Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr., whose debut with the team was delayed by a hamstring injury, is sidelined again, this time due to a dislocated toe, tweets Josh Lewenberg of It’s unclear how much time Porter might miss, but he has already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Miami.

Damian Lillard Listed As Questionable To Play Monday

Damian Lillard could make a swift return from his right calf strain. The Trail Blazers star guard is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against Miami, the team’s PR department tweets.

Lillard suffered a calf strain while playing against the Heat on Oct. 26. At the time, Lillard was reportedly going to be reevaluated in one-to-two weeks.

He has missed the last four games and Portland has gone 2-2 during that stretch. During the first five games this season, Lillard averaged 31.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per night.

Until last season, Lillard had never missed more than nine games in a season. He appeared in only 29 games in 2021/22 before he underwent abdominal surgery.

If Lillard returns on Monday, it will come at an opportune time. Gary Payton II continues to be listed as out due to reconditioning, while Anfernee Simons is considered doubtful due to left foot inflammation.

Injury Updates: GPII, DiVincenzo, LaVine, Middleton, Suggs, Grimes

Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II, who continues to recover from offseason abdominal surgery, could will be out for at least two more weeks, reports Chris Haynes of TNT (Twitter link). According to Haynes, Payton’s earliest possible return date will be November 15 vs. San Antonio. That will be Portland’s first home game following a six-game road trip that begins this Friday.

The Blazers issued a press release confirming the timeline reported by Haynes and noting that Payton has been cleared to increase his conditioning and on-court activity.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Warriors announced today (via Twitter) that guard Donte DiVincenzo is “making good progress” as he recovers from a strained left hamstring, but isn’t ready to return quite yet. DiVincenzo will be reevaluated when the Warriors return home this weekend, per the team. That means he’ll miss at least three more games, since the Dubs will be in Miami on Tuesday, Orlando on Thursday, and New Orleans on Friday.
  • Bulls star Zach LaVine, listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Brooklyn, is expected to play, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, LaVine will likely sit Wednesday’s game vs. Charlotte, the second half of a back-to-back set, as the team continues to manage his return from knee surgery.
  • Bucks forward Khris Middleton, who underwent offseason wrist surgery, has been assigned to the G League to practice with the Wisconsin Herd as he advances to the next stage of his rehab, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A previous report indicated the Bucks hope to have Middleton back at some point in November.
  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs, out since October 21 with an ankle injury, has been upgraded to questionable for Tuesday’s game in Oklahoma City, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Meanwhile, Knicks wing Quentin Grimes, who hasn’t played yet this season due to a foot injury, has been listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Atlanta, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Blazers’ Payton To Miss Start Of Regular Season

Gary Payton II, who signed a three-year contract with the Trail Blazers in July, won’t be available for the start of the regular season next week, the team announced today in a press release.

Payton, who underwent core muscle surgery this summer, will be reevaluated in two weeks, according to the Blazers. That means, even if he’s ready to return at that point, he’ll miss Portland’s first five games of the season.

When the Blazers first announced Payton’s procedure in September, they indicated that they expected him to be ready for opening night. That won’t happen, but the team said in today’s statement that Payton “continues to progress well” in his rehab, so it doesn’t sound like he has experienced any setbacks.

It’s possible Payton’s absence will open the door for rookie Shaedon Sharpe to play regular minutes to start the season. Wings Nassir Little and Justise Winslow should also see an uptick in playing time.

In addition to their injury update on Payton, the Blazers also put out a press release announcing that center Olivier Sarr, who was converted to a two-way deal earlier today, has been diagnosed with a right wrist sprain after undergoing an MRI. He’ll be reevaluated in one week, at which point the team should have a clearer idea of when he’ll be able to return.

Blazers Notes: Lillard, Small Forward, Little, GPII, Simons

The Trail Blazers signed Damian Lillard to a two-year extension this offseason despite the fact that there were still three years remaining on the point guard’s current deal. Speaking today to reporters, including Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link), general manager Joe Cronin explained why the team was comfortable moving forward with a new deal for Lillard.

“If Dame only has one or two years left, that turns up the urgency,” Cronin said. “Now we have a little more time to get the perfect mix rather than pushing all the chips in on one big piece. We’re going to figure this out the right way.”

Lillard, meanwhile, was asked if he felt as if Portland has made the roster changes necessary to be a contending team going forward, and offered a positive assessment of the team’s summer, as Highkin relays (via Twitter).

“I believe in Joe, I believe in (head coach) Chauncey (Billups),” Lillard said. “I think what we did with our roster gave us a much better chance than what we’ve had prior to that. The way it looks and feels, we’re much closer.”

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic are virtually locked in as starters for the Blazers, but the small forward spot will likely be up for grabs in training camp and the preseason, Billups acknowledged today. “The way I see it, it’s gonna play out in camp,” Billups said (Twitter link via Highkin). “There’s three guys — Josh Hart, (Nassir Little) and Justise (Winslow). It’s not about the best player, it’s who plays best with that unit.”
  • The Blazers have had “brief” conversations with Little’s camp about a potential rookie scale extension, but haven’t gotten deep into the numbers yet, Cronin said today, adding that there’s mutual interest in reaching a long-term agreement (Twitter link via Highkin).
  • Gary Payton II, who is recovering from a core muscle surgery, is the only Blazer who isn’t a “full go” for training camp, according to Cronin, who reiterated that the newly-signed guard is expected to be ready for opening night (Twitter link via Highkin).
  • Billups is hopeful he can reduce Lillard’s workload during the 2022/23 season, telling reporters today that he’d to keep the point guard between 32 and 34 minutes per game. “He wants to play 42 minutes,” Billups said, per Highkin (Twitter link). “If we have it where we want it, I’m hoping around 34. But we’ll see.”
  • After signing a new four-year, $100MM contract this summer, Simons said today that one of his next personal goals is to become an All-Star, according to Highkin (Twitter link).

Gary Payton II Underwent Core Muscle Procedure, Expected To Be Ready For Season

New Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II underwent a procedure this offseason to address a core muscle injury, the team announced today in a press release. According to the Blazers, the procedure – which was performed at The Vincera Institute in Philadelphia – took place in July.

Payton’s rehab is “progressing well,” the Blazers said in today’s announcement, adding that the 29-year-old is expected to be fully recovered by the start of the regular season. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to participate fully in basketball activities and scrimmages when training camp begins this month.

After winning a title with the Warriors in 2021/22, Payton signed a three-year, $26.15MM deal with Portland this summer. He’s coming off the best season of his NBA career — he averaged 7.1 PPG in just 17.6 MPG and shot an impressive 61.6% from the floor in addition to handling the most challenging perimeter assignments on defense.

Payton won’t be the only Blazer returning this fall from a core muscle issue. Damian Lillard‘s 2021/22 season ended early after he had surgery to address a lingering abdominal injury and Nassir Little underwent a similar procedure in May.

Contract Details: J. Smith, Oladipo, Co. Martin, Payton, More

Jalen Smith‘s new deal with the Pacers, initially reported as a two-year agreement, is actually a three-year contract with a player option in year three, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link). The deal also includes a trade kicker, says Agness.

Hoops Rumors can confirm Agness’ report and add that Smith’s trade kicker is worth 10%. The Pacers gave the big man the highest starting salary they legally could after the 2022/23 option in his rookie scale contract was turned down last year, resulting in a 2022/23 cap hit of $4,670,160 and subsequent 8% annual raises. Smith’s three-year deal has a total value of $15.13MM.

Here are a few more details on recently signed or agreed-upon contracts:

  • According to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, Victor Oladipo‘s two-year deal with the Heat will be worth in the neighborhood of $18MM. As we relayed on Wednesday evening, Oladipo agreed to lower his 2022/23 salary in exchange for a second-year option. Dewayne Dedmon‘s two-year contract with the Heat, meanwhile, is worth $4.7MM in ’22/23 with a non-guaranteed $4.32MM salary in ’23/24.
  • Cody Martin‘s four-year contract with the Hornets is worth a total of $31.36MM, Hoops Rumors has learned. Martin’s $8.68MM salary in the final season of the deal (2025/26) is non-guaranteed.
  • Gary Payton II‘s three-year deal with the Trail Blazers has a starting salary of $8.3MM and is worth $26.15MM in total, slightly below its reported value of $28MM, Hoops Rumors has learned. The signing leaves Portland with a small portion of its mid-level exception remaining.
  • Jae’Sean Tate‘s three-year contract with the Rockets has a base value of $20.63MM, but can be worth up to $22.13MM if Tate earns all of his unlikely incentives. Kelly Iko of The Athletic previously reported that those incentives are tied to the team’s performance and that Tate’s contract includes a third-year team option.
  • Anfernee Simons‘ new four-year, $100MM contract with the Trail Blazers is fully guaranteed, without any incentives, Hoops Rumors has learned. It begins at $22.32MM in 2022/23 and eventually increases to $27.68MM in ’25/26.
  • New Raptors forward Otto Porter will earn $6MM in 2022/23, with a $6.3MM player option in ’23/24, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Western Rumors: Mitchell, Payton II, Lillard, Bryant

Rudy Gobert‘s impending trade to Minnesota, in which Utah will receive multiple unprotected first-round picks, and a separate trade sending Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn for another first-round pick, could be seen as an indication that the Jazz might be rebuilding.

In an appearance on NBA Today, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said (video link from Talkin’ NBA) the league is preparing for Jazz star Donovan Mitchell to request a trade, noting that O’Neale was one of Mitchell’s closest friends on the team.

If you’re Donovan Mitchell and you see two trades like this that are designed to save more than $100MM and get first-round draft picks, that doesn’t inspire confidence,” Windhorst said. “And talking to league executives who saw some of this coming, they think it would be abnormal for Donovan to not want out at this point.

Now, they obviously have the option to use these assets to trade something to put around Donovan, and that may be what they’re trying to sell him on. But right now, there are teams out there that are revving up the possibility of calling Utah and seeing what it’s going to take to get Donovan Mitchell, because they’re not going to be done. This is not a team that needs Mike Conley. This is not a team that needs Bojan Bogdanovic. This is not a team that needs Rudy Gay. All of these guys who have long-term money who have value to other places, I would suspect, are going to potentially be on the trade market and the Jazz are going to get calls.”

When the Gobert news broke, both ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tony Jones of The Athletic said the Jazz planned to retool the roster around Mitchell rather than move him.

However, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune hears (Twitter links) that it’s not a lock that the Jazz will keep Mitchell, saying there’s been some “push back” on those reports. The Jazz plan to keep their options open for all possibilities, according to Larsen, who notes that Mitchell could be a fallback option for the Heat if they’re unable to land Kevin Durant.

Here are a few more rumors from the Western Conference:

  • A source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green pitched Gary Payton II on sticking with the Warriors, but Golden State’s reported offer — two years for about taxpayer mid-level exception money — was substantially less than he received from the Trail Blazers (three years, $28MM). Losing Payton will surely sting for the Warriors, as he was a fan favorite and an excellent defender, Amick observes.
  • As Amick relays, it was assumed that Damian Lillard would be a lock to sign a two-year, max extension shortly after free agency opened, which has yet to transpire. The deadline won’t pass until the start of the regular season, but Lillard may still needs some convincing to sign the deal, a source tells Amick, who says the star guard wanted the Blazers to have a strong offseason to prove they could build a contender around him. According to Amick, adding Payton will surely help matters. Not only does the team need perimeter defense, which Payton provides, but there are a couple other ties between the two players. Payton’s father, Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton, has been a mentor to Lillard, and all three are represented by agent Aaron Goodwin.
  • Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times hears (via Twitter) from sources that the Lakers are very interested in a reunion with center Thomas Bryant, who is an unrestricted free agent. However, the Lakers can only offer a veteran minimum deal, so Bryant is in search of a better offer. The Raptors are also pursuing Bryant, per Turner.

Trail Blazers Sign Gary Payton II To Three-Year Deal

JULY 6: The Trail Blazers have officially signed Payton, according to a press release from the team.

“We are excited to have Gary join us in Portland,” general manager Joe Cronin said. “Gary brings an elite defensive acumen and championship pedigree that will be essential to how we play basketball. His competitiveness and toughness will accent Coach (Chauncey) Billups’ style of play.”

JULY 1: The Trail Blazers are finalizing a three-year contract agreement with free agent guard Gary Payton II, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the deal is expected to be worth $28MM. It will include a player option and incentives, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report first reported that Portland was in hot pursuit of Payton with a deal believed to be worth in the range of $8MM annually. The price tag reported by Charania comes in a little higher than that, as the Blazers have apparently committed to using most of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign the 29-year-old.

Payton, who has never signed an NBA contract worth more than the minimum salary, caught on as the Warriors’ 15th man last fall, then secured a regular spot in the rotation, carving out a niche as a defensive stopper.

While most of Payton’s value stems from his ability to slow down perimeter scorers, he had his best offensive season in 2021/22 too, chipping in 7.1 PPG in just 17.6 MPG and shooting an impressive 61.6% from the floor. He played a key role in the Warriors’ championship run, returning from a fractured elbow in the NBA Finals to defend the likes of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart.

As Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets, Golden State wanted to bring back Payton but was unwilling to match Portland’s offer, which would have cost the Warriors exponentially more due to the subsequent luxury tax penalties.

Payton is on track to join a Portland team that has made it a priority this offseason to upgrade its defense and struck a deal last week to acquire forward Jerami Grant from Detroit. The Blazers were also linked earlier today to versatile free agent wing Bruce Brown, but he may be out of their price range now that they’re using their MLE on Payton.