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The deal goes through! Payton back with Warriors! (but not playing)
Trade for injured guard fits well with odd season
Well, it happened! After thinking about it for a couple of days, the Golden State Warriors gave their nod of approval and will go through with the four player, four team trade. The saga of James Wiseman has come to an end that somehow feels both too soon and not soon enough - but here’s hoping the kid finds success in the NBA (or wherever) because everyone around the team has had nothing but nice things to say.
But for a Warriors team looking to find help right now, as well as in the playoffs, it makes more sense to have Gary Payton II back in the fold. So Golden State went for the “only way out is through” approach - which was also the DNHQ poll favorite options.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (28-28) vs Washington Wizards (26-29)
WHEN: Monday, February 13th, 2023 // 7pm PDT
Why did the Warriors trade for someone that’s hurt?
It’s been a weird year for Golden State. One of the oddest title defenses I can remember, the Warriors still have their core intact - but everything feels different for the defending champs this time around. The stars that were supposed to steady the ship have done what they can, but with all the injuries that have kept at least one filtered out of the mix for most of the season, it’s never really come together here.
Deeper than the 28-28 record (good enough to barely squeeze into the playoffs in 9th place), there’s something funky up with this roster (funky like the gym bag you forgot in your trunk not like James Brown). We talked about this in the fun conversation I had with Daniel Hardee and Patrick Murray on Saturday, but the main problem is that it’s not the playoffs yet; and it’s a roster built for those tighter rotations.
So in many ways, this is a great signing. Payton is an elite point of attack defender that is going to pair extremely well with some of the lineups that coach Steve Kerr can trot out when defense is needed.
Payton had the highest Net Rating (16.9) of anybody in a two-man lineup with Steph Curry last season, and he unlocks Draymond Green's defensive greatness to another level. The Warriors had a 97.7 defensive rating with Payton on the floor and Green playing center last season.
But Payton is also a high impact, low usage weapon that dunks with a visceral panache that drive opponents nuts.
But… he’s hurt right now. That was why there was all the noise over the weekend around this deal. There’s a significant injury history to a core muscle that is definitely worrying. He also plays a position that the Warriors happen to be their deepest at.
For tonight’s game, Payton is technically eligible. But look at the injury report:
The estimates are full of public relations spin - so I expect that we’ll see additional details emerge from Golden State in the coming days in regards to the return timeline.
For now though, it’s more of the same. Andrew Wiggins popped up in the injury report as questionable with an ankle injury. Maybe he comes back like Mahomes did in the Super Bowl, because the Warriors are running out of clock to get this thing right.
Still no Curry, and while the Warriors fixed a past transgression by bringing Payton back, there’s an element of desperation for a team seeking help in a number of areas. Any time teams are looking to the buyout market to fill an actual team need (rather than finding an improvement somewhere), it’s a concern. The frontcourt rotation is still awfully thin behind Kevon Looney and a worn down Draymond Green.
There’s also an increasingly problematic habit of the Warriors melting down late, as they did in the last game against potential playoff opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers.
For a team that keeps pointing towards internal improvement as the secret ingredient, they’ve got to figure out how to stop shooting themselves in the foot when the game’s on the line. Payton’s a nice step in the right direction, but for a lot of reasons, this isn’t going to solve any of the Warriors’ problems right now. Maybe later though, so that’s a nice step anyways.
Strap in, because these last few games before the All Star break could be rough.
The good vibes are back! And with both Stephen Curry and Gary Payton rooting for a win on the bench, there’s no way this team can lose!
Also, on a Super Bowl note, please discuss the below. Can LeBron James even talk? Has he gone seeking league intervention a few too many times to chime in here?