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Report: Gary Payton II fails physical putting four-team trade in jeopardy

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Kurt Helin breaks down which teams came out on top and which teams fell short in the wake of the NBA's chaotic trade deadline.

UPDATE: According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Warriors have until Sunday evening to make a call on the future of the four-team trade. Because it is now after the trade deadline, the four-team deal cannot be modified, it has to go forward as is or not at all.

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Gary Payton II’s return to the Warriors is on hold — and the entire four-team trade that sent him back to the Bay Area — could fall apart after he failed his post-trade physical.

Physicals are considered a routine and almost forgotten part of the trade process, but Payton failed his with the Warriors,
reports Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Payton, according to sources, had been playing through pain in Portland. Sources added that the Blazers training staff had been pushing him to gut through it, giving him Toradol shots. This had not been relayed to the Warriors during the negotiation process.

Payton had abdominal surgery during the summer. The Blazers initially projected he’d be ready for the regular season. But his rehab lingered, his timeline kept getting pushed back and Payton ended up missing the season’s first 35 games, hinting after his return that he still didn’t feel fully right, mentioning a few setbacks.


Because it is after the trade deadline, this trade cannot be amended. Either the Warriors waive the physical and it goes forward as-is, or the entire trade is voided and everyone goes back to their previous team. The Warriors are considering having the trade go through, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

There are layers here, but we’ll start with details of the trade itself which breaks out this way:

• Warriors receive: Gary Payton II
• Pistons receive: James Wiseman
• Trail Blazers receive: Kevin Knox, five future second-round picks
• Hawks receive: Saddiq Bey

The second part of the report — that the Trail Blazers’ medical staff pushed Payton to play despite him not feeling right following surgery — is of concern and something the players’ union could take up.

Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups pushed back on the report.

“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, via the Associated Pres. “I would never push somebody to play because I would always be scared of me doing that and then something actually happening.”

If the report is true it would be far from the first time in professional sports that team medical staff had the team in mind over player health.

Payton signed a three-year, $26.1 million contract with the Trail Blazers after last season, then underwent abdominal core surgery (the same surgery Damian Lillard had last season). He was expected to be about to return around the start of training camp but missed the first 35 games of the season as he continued to recover.