Gary Payton II‘s long wait to get back on the court with the Warriors will end Sunday, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Payton has been listed as probable to play against the Timberwolves, and sources tell Haynes that he’ll be ready to go.
Payton was able to scrimmage Friday and participated fully in Saturday’s light practice, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. An official decision may not be made until after warm-ups, but it appears the intention is for Payton to play.
“I’m starting to feel like myself,” he said. “I missed a lot of games this year, so I’m just ready to get back out on the court with the guys and wrap this up for the homestretch.”
After being an important part of Golden State’s title team last season, Payton signed with the Trail Blazers over the summer. The Warriors reached an agreement to bring him back at the trade deadline, but the deal was delayed four days because Payton had an adductor injury that Golden State claimed the Blazers didn’t disclose. Payton, who hasn’t played since February 8, says he feels good now and he’s ready to contribute.
“Every day getting my body right, a little maintenance, fine-tuning, we had a little extra time to do all of that and get (my body) where it needs to be,” he said.
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Russell Westbrook has taken on a mentorship role since signing with the Clippers, according to Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Westbrook’s main students are young guards Terance Mann and Bones Hyland, who are eager to learn from a future Hall of Famer. “I got so much love and just, just everything for Russ, man. I love watching him play, his energy,” Hyland said. “… He gives it his all. So just being alongside Russ, I learned so much and he’s always in my ear telling me the good things, what he sees out there for me. I’m glad to be a teammate alongside Russ.”
- Clippers coach Tyronn Lue could “remove himself” from the team if things don’t go well in the playoffs, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports suggested in the first episode of his “No Cap Room” podcast. However, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Lue, who has multiple years left on his contract, hasn’t engaged in any discussions with management about an early exit.
- Mike Brown, who’s among the favorites for Coach of the Year honors, said the award would be important because of the recognition it would bring to the Kings and the city of Sacramento (video link).