As the Warriors continue celebrating their latest trip to the NBA Finals, one of the team’s key postseason contributors may soon be celebrating his return to the fold.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Friday guard Gary Payton II is on track to be back as soon as June 2 when Golden State hosts Game 1. Payton, 29, has been sidelined since May 3 after suffering an elbow fracture in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Grizzlies.
Known for his defensive prowess and high-flying dunks, Payton emerged as an instrumental piece for Golden State down the stretch after initially signing two 10-day contracts in April. He continued his momentum into the first round of the playoffs where he provided valuable minutes for Steve Kerr off the bench in a 4–1 series win over the Nuggets.
After playing 23 minutes as starter in Game 1 versus Memphis, Payton exited Game 2 early in the first quarter after a hard foul from guard Dillon Brooks. The defensive stalwart landed on his left arm after being on the receiving end of an inadvertent shot to the head/neck from Brooks as he attempted a lay-up. Brooks was suspended one game for the play.
Payton, a seven-year vet who entered the league as undrafted rookie, has averaged 6.1 points, three rebounds, 1.3 assists in seven appearances this postseason.
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