One of the most complex operations that gave the most talk at the closing of the NBA winter market, last Thursday, is in danger. The Warriors have very serious doubts about whether or not to execute the transfer in which they were going to recover Gary Payton II, champion with those from Bahía in June but whose medical review has set off alarm bells. Trail Blazers, Pistons and Hawks are pending what the Warriors decide. Today is the deadline: either the operation is done or the operation is broken. There are no possible modulations, in principle there can be no gray because the market closed. The transfer, therefore, cannot be qualified. It is done or it is not done.
At the center of the operation, the Warriors recovered Payton II, whose toughness had been very important to them last season and who, despite serious physical problems, arrived on time and was able to contribute in the demanding Finals against the Celtics. The guard (30 years old) later signed with the Blazers for three years and 28 million dollars, a figure that the Warriors could not match given their enormous burden on the luxury tax. And Payton II, despite being a much-loved player in the locker room and among the Californian fans, went to Oregon. But there things have not gone well: with a complicated abdominal problem, he could not debut until January 2, and has only played a total of 15 games with the Blazers jersey. With his departure worded, it was further leaked that he wanted to leave as out of his new team and that he was “ecstatic” over what he seemed like an accomplished (he wasn’t) return to San Francisco.
In an operation with much more crumb, the Warriors were going to send James Wiseman to the Detroit Pistons. His final surrender with the center, only 21 years old and number 2 in the 2020 Draft, a very strong bet from the Warriors who, between injuries and obvious gaps in the game, has been a disaster during these two and a half seasons. The Pistons sent Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox to the Warriors, and the Hawks in turn five second rounds in exchange for keeping Bey. Finally, the Warriors commanded three second rounds and Knox s the Blazers.
The general manager of the Blazers, Joe Cronin, assured yesterday that Payton had a medical discharge and that they were “confident” is that he was fully recovered and fit to play: “The safety of the players is super important to us, and it is something super important for the entire NBA. He has been playing, he was in our rotation and we were convinced that he was totally healthy. He would not have played if we had doubts or thought there was some risk to him. So we believe that we did the right thing and that the process was as it should be on our part.”.
The Warriors do not seem to share that opinion, as stated by Anthony Slater, who covers the Bay team for The Athletic: “They are very angry about all this. For them, it was a transfer to win now, for this part of the season. But that player they had to win with now can’t play at the moment, and it was something they didn’t know before doing this operation”. According to the information that Slater publishes together with Shams Charania in The Athletic, Payton II I could be between two and three more months off due to those abdominal problems that they made him undergo surgery in the summer and that, in yesterday’s medical examination, the Warriors’ doctors saw that they still existed. And they cite sources close to the case to ensure that the escort he’s been playing through pain, pushed around by the Blazers and taking Teradol shots. The Warriors were not informed of any of this when the trade was negotiated.