Trail Blazers Announce Key New Player To Miss Start Of Season

It was a coup by the Portland Trail Blazers when they swooped in and stole one of the Golden State Warriors' key free agents, Gary Payton II, this summer. But they'll have to wait just a bit longer for his debut. 

Payton II had an offseason procedure to address a core muscle injury. Although his rehab continues to progress well, the team says, he will miss the start of the season, and be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Payton's defensive tenacity was a boon to the Warriors last season in their championship run; he finished 3rd in the NBA in deflections per 36 minutes, with 5.2.

The Blazers played their last preseason game at the Chase Center Wednesday night, and Payton was in the building, though of course he wasn't suited up. The Warriors were glad to see him, and definitely are happy for him. 

"He came down when they were practicing on the main floor," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. "Maybe just by habit, he walked down those stairs and came down to say hello to everybody. It was fantastic. Everyone loves Gary." 

Payton II had toiled away for five seasons in the NBA before 2021, never quite cracking a team's rotation... Until last year with the Dubs. His inspired performance allowed him to sign a three-year, $29M contract with Portland. Quite the raise after making $1.9M with Golden State last season. 

Photo: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports