Gary Payton II may play Western Convention finals, feedback on Dillon Brooks

Gary Payton II sported a bucket hat but not a brace for his fractured left elbow on Sunday at the podium when talking with reporters from Chase Center. What would it take for Payton to return to the Warriors during the NBA playoffs?

Time.

A priceless gift that Payton and the Warriors are counting on now more than ever.

“Clearly, it’s just time,” Payton said. “Getting better every day, it’s feeling better every day. But it’s gonna take time. We’re not trying to put a date on when I can or when I can’t or whatever.

“Just taking it one day at a time, and hopefully we get a few more extra days.”

Steve Kerr earlier Sunday said that Payton won’t be available at the start of the Western Conference finals, which begin Wednesday against either the Phoenix Suns or Dallas Mavericks. But he also stated Payton hasn’t been fully ruled out of the entire series.

Shortly thereafter, Kerr downplayed Payton’s possible availability, making it clear that’s far from a guarantee.

“We’re not saying he’s going to play either,” Kerr said. “It would be a long shot for him to play, but I think it’s a possibility.”

Though the left-handed Payton obviously isn’t able to do everything right now, Kerr isn’t concerned about GP2’s conditioning once he is cleared to return. He’s able to go through a handful of drills and workouts that don’t require his elbow, and is doing all he can to stay in game-shape.

Payton, while starting his second straight playoff game, was injured not even three minutes into the Warriors’ Game 2 loss to the Grizzlies. As he rose for an easy layup, Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks hit Payton from behind, which sent him crashing to the floor. On Sunday, Payton said he initially thought he hyperextended his elbow.

He made one of his two free throws, almost airballing the first before making the second.

Brooks was hit with a Flagrant 2 foul, resulting in an automatic ejection. He also was suspended by the league for Game 3which the Warriors won by 30 points.

As for his feelings towards Brooks, Payton took the high road and called the play “an NBA playoff foul.” He also revealed Brooks did reach out to him, and the two are on good terms.

“We talked, it’s all good,” Payton said. “It’s a basketball play, I know he didn’t mean it. No hard feelings, no bad blood, it’s all good.

“It’s playoff basketball.”

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Payton at first was ruled out for at least three weeks. Tuesday will mark two weeks since he sustained the injury.

Both the Warriors and Payton remain hopeful for his eventual return. Each win brings them closer to the title, and helps give one of Golden State’s best defensive players and a key part to the Warriors’ success, the time he’s begging for right now.

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