The Golden State Warriors are currently without arguably their two best defenders, with Draymond Green out suspended and Gary Payton II dealing with a foot sprain.
Fortunately, the duo's absence could be about to change. Green has two games left on his suspension for a headlock on Minnesota Timberwolves' center Rudy Gobert, while Payton could be back even earlier.
Gary Payton II could return from a two-game absence when the Golden State Warriors visit the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on Wednesday.
Speaking before Monday's win against the Houston Rockets, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr labelled Payton 'a chance' to play in Wednesday's crucial matchup against the Suns in Phoenix.
The 30-year-old initially injured himself during the second-quarter of last week's first of two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Payton's absence proved pivotal in Saturday's overtime loss, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander going for 40 points including 32 in the second-half and overtime.
Payton's early injury concern, albeit seemingly not significant, has to bring a reasonable level of frustration after the issues he went through last season. After winning a championship with Golden State in 2022, the defensive-minded guard left for the Portland Trail Blazers in free agency.
However, Payton was forced to wait to make his Portland debut due to a core injury. He would play just 15 games for the franchise before rejoining the Warriors in a four-team deal at February's trade deadline.
That trade was shrouded in controversy, with Payton failing his medical assessment that initially put the deal in jeopardy. Speculation grew on the Trail Blazers' handling of Payton' injury, and he would ultimately not return to play for the Warriors until late in the regular season.
The Suns are currently without injured guard Bradley Beal, but nevertheless Payton's return could be important in quelling the influence of franchise star Devin Booker. The 27-year-old is currently averaging 28.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 9.8 assists so far this season.