Gary Payton II to miss start of season, still recovering from abdominal surgery – NBC Sports

Gary Payton II had the same surgery to repair a core muscle injury as his new teammate, Damian Lillard.
However, unlike Lillard, Payton will not be back and healthy for the start of the season, as initially hoped, the Trail Blazers announced. Instead, he will be re-evaluated in two weeks. For comparison,  Nassir Little had a similar surgery in May but was not cleared to play until just a few weeks ago.
Payton played an important bench role for the Warriors on the way to their title last season, then parlayed that into a three-year, $26.1 million contract in Portland.
He’s part of a retooled Trail Blazers roster centered around Lillard, Jerami Grant, Anfrenee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic and Josh Hart, among others. Portland built a solid roster, but will that be enough in a very deep West?
The Knicks are eight points per 100 possessions better when Mitchell Robinson is on the court at center this season.
Which is trouble because he will be out at least three weeks — and likely longer — following thumb surgery he underwent on Thursday, the Knicks announced.
Mitchell Robinson underwent successful surgery today to repair his fractured right thumb at the Hospital for Special Surgery. He will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) January 19, 2023

Mitchell left the Knicks’ loss to the Wizards on Wednesday in the first half with what the team described at the time as a sprained thumb. It’s clearly more than that, although without details on where the fracture occurred it’s difficult to predict a return timeline.
Mitchell is averaging 7.2 points and 8.9 rebounds a game for New York, but his biggest impact is on the defensive end where he is an anchor for the team blocking 1.8 shots a game. Expect Tom Thibodeau to lean heavily on Isaiah Hartenstein at center and use more small-ball lineups. For a Knicks team in a fight with the Heat and Pacers (among others) for the sixth seed and avoiding the play-in the next three weeks could be huge.
Kevin Durant is missing time because Jimmy Butler fell into his knee, and that — combined with some huge games from Giannis Antetokounmpo — appears to have altered at least some fans’ thinking.
Antetokounmpo has moved just past Durant to be the leading vote getter in the East in the final update on fan voting before the starters are announced next week. Here are the latest results.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo lead their respective conferences in the third fan returns of #NBAAllStar Voting presented by AT&T.
Fans account for 50% of the vote to decide All-Star starters. NBA players and a media panel account for 25% each. pic.twitter.com/nqNZqkeVJw
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 19, 2023

As of this vote, LeBron James and Antetokounmpo would be the captains and pick their team’s starters from a pool of Durant, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic.
It is possible Durant will retake the East lead from Antetokounmpo in the final days of fan voting, but it’s unlikely he will make up a little more than 132,000 votes when he is not playing. It’s the same situation for the tightly-contested third frontcourt starting spot in the East, where Embiid has fallen more than 200,000 votes behind Tatum and that’s a lot to make up in a couple of days.
There is one tight race in the West, where Zion is just 77,439 behind the Lakers’ Davis for the final starting slot in the fan vote. With both players being out (and having missed considerable time this season) the player and media votes could move the needle on this starting spot.
Fan All-Star voting continues at the NBA app and NBA.com through Jan. 21 (there is no voting via social media this year). All fan votes will count triple on Jan. 20.
As in recent years, the fan vote will count for 50% of the total for each player, with votes from NBA players counting for 25%, and votes from a panel of NBA media making up the other 25%. Fans, media and players vote for the starters — two guards, three frontcourt players in each conference — but the reserves for each team are chosen by a vote of the NBA coaches (or, more accurately, the NBA assistant coaches who couldn’t dodge the job when it was handed down the ladder).
The NBA All-Star Game occurs on Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City. Events from the weekend will be broadcast on TNT.
John Collins has three guaranteed seasons at a total of $75.8 million owed him over the three seasons after this one (the final year of that is a player option).
That figure has slowed the Collins trade market as other teams are hesitant to take on those future years, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on the network’s NBA Countdown show Wednesday (hat tip Hoopsrumors.com).
“John Collins has been at the center of their trade talks… Starting next year, still owed another $25 million a year, essentially $75 million over the next three years. I think that’s been a hindrance in the trade market. There are some teams, such as Utah, that would like a draft pick with Collins to offset that money… Landry Fields, the new general manager in Atlanta, he does not see John Collins as a money dump.”
Utah’s Danny Ainge is pushing a hard deal that includes him getting more draft picks? Shocking.
Collins is a productive player, averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds a game this season, and one who might benefit from a change of scenery. He could help playoff teams. Collins is seen around the league as a quality player who is overpaid relative to his production, but he’s not a guy the Hawks — who are trying to build a contender around Trae Young — can afford to just salary dump.
It’s still likely Fields and the Hawks trade Collins at the deadline, very possibly to Utah (where he is an odd fit next to Lauri Markkanen), and this is all just public negotiations to settle on a price before the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
With everyone healthy — as they were, finally, Wednesday night in a win over the Knicks — the Wizards see a logjam at the forward spot. Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma started at forward, then off the bench came Corey Crispest, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, and Taj Gibson, all of whom can be considered forwards.
Looking to clear some of that logjam, the Wizards are listening to offers for Hachimura, reports Shams Charania and Josh Robins at The Athletic.
Hachimura, who is set to become a restricted free agent in July, has drawn interest from several Western Conference teams in need of scoring, league sources said.
The Wizards also have received interest from multiple teams on potential deals involving star forward Kyle Kuzma, but moving Hachimura would reduce a logjam at the forward spots and place the franchise in a better position financially to focus on re-signing Kuzma and potentially re-sign Kristaps Porziņģis in the offseason.
Trading Hachimura would be a bet on re-signing Kuzma, despite persistent buzz around the league Kuzma — who will be an unrestricted free agent — has plans to bolt the nation’s capital for a brighter spotlight.
Hachimura is making $6.2 million in the final year of his rookie contract and will be a restricted free agent next summer. Hachimura has been a solid reserve, averaging 12.4 points per game (shooting just 32.4% from 3) and is a plus defender, the kind of player most teams look to keep on a friendly contract. However, with Bradley Beal making $46.7 million next season, Porziņģis weighing a $36 million option, and the Wizards not being willing to go into the tax for this roster, they may need to free up some cap space to have the money to entice Kuzma to stay.
Washington has some questions to answer heading into the offseason about what direction they hope to take the franchise — they believe this is a solid playoff team when everyone is healthy. Trading Hachimura would signal that direction plans to include Kuzma.

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