The Golden State Warriors had optimistic news to share regarding one of their injured players Friday, and what was at least a hopeful update on the other.
The Dubs’ official public relations account released an update on the injury statuses of both Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala, two of the team’s best perimeter defenders, on Friday, May 19. The releases was shared a couple of hours ahead of Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic retweeted that release accompanied by a short breakdown of the contents within.
“Warriors announce that Gary Payton II will be re-evaluated again in one week and Andre Iguodala’s status will be updated when he returns to practice,” Slater wrote. “Payton was given a 3-5 week timetable. It’s been two weeks.”
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Language Changes Around Iguodala Injury, Indicating Optimism
The full transcription of Golden State’s press release as to the conditions of the two players and the work they are doing in an effort to return to the floor is as follows.
Warriors guard Gary Payton II, who suffered a fracture in the left elbow in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. Memphis on May 3 and has missed the last five games, is making good progress in his recovery process. He has started to do various light individual on-court activities and will be re-evaluated again in one week.
Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, who has missed the last eight games due to a disc injury in his neck, continues to show progress during his recovery process. His daily rehabilitation consists of both physical therapy/training in the weight room and light individual on-court activities. The next update on his status will be provided when he is cleared to re-join team practice activities.
Based on the language used in previous updates, the chances that Iguodala might return to live game action appear better than they have been since he went down near the end of the first round of the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets.
On May 12, Golden State used the same general re-evaluation language to characterize Iguodala’s timeline as they did for Payton on Friday — that he would be re-evaluated in one week. That had been the line for several weeks as the Dubs’ forward battled back from the neck injury. Saying now that the next update will be provided when Iguodala is “cleared to re-join team practice activities” indicates that such clearance is far more likely to come inside of the next week than it has been previously.
Warriors fans should take as a sign of optimism the fact that the team is even willing to talk openly about Iguodala practicing with the full roster rather than alone, and that development can’t come soon enough for the Warriors. The Dubs dismantled the Mavericks in Game 1 on Wednesday night, May 18, but that is not necessarily an indicator of what is to come — especially where a team like Dallas is concerned.
The Mavericks’ previous four contests, stretching back to Game 5 in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Suns, have been decided at least 25 points. They are 2-2 in those outings — with two losses on the road, and wins split with one coming at home and the other in Phoenix in a deciding Game 7.
The Warriors held Dallas star Luka Doncic in check during Game 1 at Chase Center, where he scored just 20 points on 33% shooting from the field, but the more defenders Golden State has to throw at him, the better. Iguodala is 38 years old and has struggled to stay on the floor this season, but his defensive wiles and playoff experience make him an invaluable option to either guard Doncic or to get a hand in the face of the Mavericks’ three-point shooters, who were crucial in undoing the No. 1-seeded Suns during the previous round.
Payton Less Likely to Return Against Mavericks, But Not Ruled Out
As Slater noted Friday, Payton is still a week shy of the earliest possible return based on his initial injury timeline. That would most likely put him back on the floor no earlier than Game 5 in Dallas, which is scheduled for Thursday, May 26, should that contest prove necessary.
Technically, Game 4 scheduled two days prior is the literal three-week mark since Payton broke his elbow, after Memphis guard Dillon Brooks hit him across the head in mid-air as he attempted a layup in Game 2 of that series. However, based on recent comments from both Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and Payton himself, a return that soon sounds unlikely.
“We’re not ruling him out of the whole conference finals,” Kerr said during a press conference on Sunday, May 15. “We’re not saying he’s going to play either. It would be a long shot for him to play, but I think it’s a possibility.”
Payton was asked the same day what he needed to do to get back into a rotation that he has helped immensely on defense throughout the course of the regular season.
“Time, clearly just time,” Payton explained. “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.”