LOS ANGELES -- The Warriors clearly didn't know as much as Gary Payton II or the Portland Trail Blazers when they reacquired the defensive star minutes before the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline. Chief among the mystery was Payton's physical health, and the fact that he needed Toradol to play through lingering pain stemming from offseason core muscle surgery.
Payton on Wednesday, when speaking to the media for the first time since the trade, clarified his condition and his use of the painkiller.
The 30-year-old guard did take Toradol when he was a part of the Blazers, but not through an injection.
"Me just being a competitor, I wanted to get out there. No shots, though," Payton said after Warriors practice. "I just had to get through it and get it done. The medical stuff wasn't that big of a deal. I wanted to play and go out there and help my teammates and coaches.
"I was a bigger factor on the court than off the court. Me being 50 percent was better than nothing. I just had to get out there and help my team try to win. ... No shots, it's just being a competitor. I got to get out there and do what I got to do."
Following Payton's surprising failed Warriors physical, The Athletic, citing sources, reported the Blazers' training staff pushed him to play through pain and administered Toradol shots. Payton's agent, Aaron Goodwin, later denied his client ever took shots in a statement to Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes.
On Sept. 17, Payton underwent abdominal surgery but was expected to be ready by the start of the regular season. That wasn't the case, though. Payton missed the Blazers' first 35 games to complications from the procedure.
After he debuted on Jan. 2, Payton then missed the Blazers' next three games before playing 14 of their next 17. His final game in a Blazers jersey came on Feb. 8, one day before the deadline, when he started and played over 22 minutes in a win over the Warriors. That signaled he was fine to continue playing and was expected to be a key piece in the Warriors improving a defense that has struggled all season in Payton's absence.
"It was tricky," Payton said about playing through pain against the Warriors. "It was just lingering pain through the surgery, trying to work on and move through it with ease.
"That was one of the games that I wanted to play, just kind of thug it out. It was fun."
Over 15 games with the Blazers, Payton played 17 minutes per game. He averaged 4.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game and made nine of his 17 3-point attempts. The 22-plus minutes he was on the court against the Warriors were the second-most he had played all season.
He won't be re-evaluated by the Warriors until mid-March. In the meantime, Payton isn't partaking in basketball activities. So far, his daily schedule is focused on rehab, strength and conditioning.
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Just as he wasn't surprised by his failed physical, Payton was far from shocked the Warriors are holding him out for at least a month, with hope remaining he'll be able to play again before the playoffs begin.
"I know my body, so I think I'll know when I'm ready to go out there and get to be able to be myself," Payton said. "It took longer than usual, and my body just wasn't ready. It's still not ready, so we'll just take it day by day."