Trail Blazers say they were confident Gary Payton II was healthy

Gary Payton II won a championship with the Warriors last season but reportedly failed a physical, jeopardizing his return.

Portland Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin said Friday that the team was confident Gary Payton II was healthy before agreeing to trade him to Golden State in a four-team deal that could be in jeopardy.

The Athletic reported that Payton failed Golden State’s fitness test on Friday. The Warriors can allow the trade to go ahead anyway or rescind it.

Cronin said he was aware of the report but had not been contacted by the Warriors, Hawks or Pistons, who were also in the deal.

“I haven’t heard from any team about it. So for now, I have to hold off,” said Cronin, who was at a news conference to speak about Portland’s changes to the NBA trade deadline.

Payton’s time in Portland was brief. He signed a three-year, $28 million contract last summer after playing on Golden State’s NBA championship team. But he missed Portland’s first 35 games of the season with a central injury that required surgery.

Athletic reported Payton could be sidelined for two to three months due to the injury. The report also cites unnamed sources who said he was playing in pain at Portland.

“He was cleared and we were confident he was healthy while playing,” said Cronin. “We would not have brought him back if we thought he was unhealthy or at risk.”

Portland coach Chauncey Billups agreed.

“We would never force a guy to play. Whether it’s a doctor or if a guy just doesn’t feel like he can play that night — let’s say he has a headache or he says he’s really stressed at home, or he says he died in the family,” Billups said. “I would never force someone to play because I would always be afraid to do that and then something would actually happen.”

The Athletic’s Anthony Slater explains why Gary Payton II is returning to the Warriors and why James Wiseman is gone.

As part of the trade, Golden State received unprotected 2026 and 2028 draft picks from Portland, while relinquishing Memphis’ 2026 second-round pick and its own 2028 second-round selection to the Blazers.

The Warriors sent center James Wiseman to Detroit in a four-team trade. The Pistons traded forward Saddiq Bey to the Hawks and the Blazers acquired forward Kevin Knox II from Detroit along with three conditional second-round picks from the Hawks.

In another pre-deadline move, the Blazers also traded forward Josh Hart to the New York Knicks in exchange for forward Cam Reddish, guard Ryan Arcidiacono and a 2023 first-round pick.

Billups said Reddish would start on Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Blazers also acquired guard Matisse Thybulle from the Philadelphia 76ers for a 2029 second-round pick and sent a 2027 second-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets.

The New York Knicks are acquiring Josh Hart from the Trail Blazers for Cam Reddish and a protected 1st-round pick.

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