Trail Blazers say they were confident Payton II was healthy

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Portland Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II wears a towel over his head during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Portland Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin said Friday the team was confident Gary Payton II was healthy before agreeing to trade him to Golden State in a four-team deal that could be at risk.

The Athletic reported that Payton had failed Golden State’s physical on Friday. The Warriors can either allow the trade to go through anyway, or rescind it.

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Cronin said he was aware of the report but hadn't been contacted by the Warriors, Hawks or Pistons, who were also in the deal.

“I haven’t heard from any teams about this. So for now I have to defer,” said Cronin, who was at a news conference to speak about Portland's moves at the NBA trade deadline.

Payton’s time in Portland was brief. He signed a $28 million, three-year contract last summer after playing on Golden State’s NBA championship team. But he missed the first 35 games of the season in Portland because of a core injury that required surgery.

The Athletic reported that that Payton could be sidelined for two to three months with the injury. The report also cite unnamed sources that said he had been playing through pain in Portland.

“He had been cleared and we were confident that he was healthy when he was playing,” Cronin said. “We would not have brought him back if we thought he wasn’t healthy or if he was at risk.”

Portland coach Chauncey Billups agreed.

“We would never push a guy to play. Whether it’s medical or whether a guy just doesn’t feel like he can play that night — say he’s got a headache or say he’s just got a lot of stress at home, or say he has a death in the family," Billups said. “I would never push somebody to play because I would always be scared of me doing that and then something actually happening.”

As part of the trade, Golden State received unprotected 2026 and ‘28 second-round draft picks from Portland while giving up Memphis’ 2026 second-round pick and its own 2028 second-round selection to the Blazers.

The Warriors sent center James Wiseman to Detroit in the four-team trade. The Pistons traded forward Saddiq Bey to the Hawks and the Blazers acquired forward Kevin Knox II from the Detroit along with three conditional second-round picks from the Hawks.

In another move before the deadline, the Blazers also dealt forward Josh Hart to the New York Knicks in exchange for forward Cam Reddish, guard Ryan Arcidiacono and a 2023 first-round pick.

Billups said Reddish would start Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Blazers also acquired guard Matisse Thybulle from the Philadelphia 76ers for a 2029 second round pick and sent a 2027 second-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets.


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