Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers declined Monday to provide details about the complaint his organization had filed with the NBA against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Gary Payton II trade.
“There are things I can’t say for legal reasons and also for HIPAA reasons, and that’s the truth,” Myers told reporters Monday. “I’m not trying to distract it. At some point, when we have information to give you, we will. But if I talk about it publicly behind the scenes, I don’t think it’s going to advance anything. And I think it wouldn’t be the best thing to do, and probably not even allowed.”
However, when asked what the rules are regarding disclosures during trade negotiations, Meyer’s response indicated that the Blazers have not been open about the extent of Payton’s core muscle injury, which is at the heart of this controversy.
“There’s medical disclosures, there’s talks, things like that,” Myers said. “And without risking specificity in this case, the normal course of business is to just provide what’s required and do that, and that happens in all professions in the NBA and I think other sports too.”
The Warriors’ complaint alleges, according to multiple reports, that the Blazers withheld information about the severity of Payton’s core muscle injury, which required off-season surgery and caused him to miss the first 35 games of the season.
Payton, who played 22 minutes against the Warriors Wednesday night, was involved in a four-team trade that sent him back to the Golden State and gave the Blazers five second-round picks and Kevin Knox.
The trade became contentious on Friday when Payton reportedly failed with the Warriors. According to reports from The Athletic and ESPN, sources said the Blazers were not honest about the extent of Payton’s injury and that he was taking Toradol – an anti-inflammatory drug – to play.
Myers and the Warriors had until 6:30 p.m. Sunday to call the trade or let it stand, and they decided to keep the trade going.
Myers said Payton is excited to be back at Golden State, for whom he played last season when it won the NBA championship. But, Myers added, his team’s medical staff don’t believe Payton is healthy enough to play and will be reevaluated in a month.
Initial reports from The Athletic, citing sources, said Payton would be sidelined for 2-3 months.
When asked what Portland did in the process that led to the complaint, Myers declined to comment. But he made it clear that Payton is not ready to play.
“I don’t want to go down that path of allegations because this is all being handled on a different level and not for today and not for me,” Myers said. “Gary will be out. From our vantage point, we’ll reevaluate it in a month and see where it stands. But it is our determination that he is not ready to play at the moment. But if we get him back, hopefully we’ll get him back eventually. The goal would be pre-playoffs. That would be the hope. But until we get a feel for how the rehab process is going, I can’t really speculate.”
Payton made his season debut with the Blazers on Jan. 2 and played in 15 games, averaging 4.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 17.0 minutes.
The Warriors weren’t allowed to try to change the four-team trade with the Blazers — and perhaps ask to reduce the number of second-round picks in the deal — because the trade deadline had already expired.
“We looked at all the different options,” Myers said. “Once we had a bit more information and went through our physical exam, we decided to go through with it based on a lot of different things.”
Myers said the Warriors saw no way for James Wiseman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, to trade to the Detroit Pistons for a return to the Golden State. He had only played 21 games that season.
Also, Myers said the Warriors believe Payton is a better fit beyond this season, particularly on defense. An added bonus is Payton’s familiarity with the Warriors system.
Financial motives also played a role in the trade. The Warriors sought to terminate Wiseman’s contract, which pays him $9.6 million this season and $12.1 million next season, to lower their luxury tax bill.
“We’ve had to be careful about the amount of money we’re taking into this trade,” Myers said. “I think it saved us $6 or $7 million this year. And just apples for apples, $30 million next year.”
Payton signed a three-year, $26.1 million deal with the Blazers last summer.
It’s unclear how the NBA might resolve this situation or how long the process might take.
“What do I want? Whatever the NBA says is fair,” Myers helps. “Whatever that is, I just want a fair result.”
And perhaps more importantly, Myers and the Warriors want a healthy payton in their lineup for another championship boost.
“I hope we can get him back for the playoffs and he’s in our building now,” Myers said. “And I trust everything they tell me and we will move forward and we need him. Hopefully he comes back sometime and can help us because I think when he comes back there is a role for him. I think the coaches and players think so too.”
— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook). Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts