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Gary Payton II a 'long shot' to play in Western Conference finals; 'no bad blood' with Dillon Brooks

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Golden State head coach Steve Kerr was incensed after Gary Payton II broke his elbow, telling reporters that Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks "broke the code" on the foul that led to the injury.

Payton addressed the foul on Sunday as the Warriors prepare for the Western Conference finals. His take was slightly more subdued.

"We talked," Payton told reporters on Sunday of Brooks. "It's all good. It's a basketball play. I know he didn't mean it. No hard feelings, no bad blood. It's all good. It's playoff basketball."

So that settles that drama. But it doesn't get Payton back on the basketball court. It's been 12 days since Payton sustained the injury, and the Warriors will face either the Phoenix Suns or the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Kerr addressed Payton's status for the series on Sunday. He wasn't ready to rule Payton out. But he's not optimistic.

"We're not ruling him out of the whole conference finals," Kerr said. "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."

Gary Payton II (0) stands on the court during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Payton II (0) stands on the court during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Chase Center. (Darren Yamashita/Reuters)

Payton will be two weeks out from the injury when Game 1 tips on Wednesday. According to the Cleveland Clinic, "people with elbow fractures will be in a cast or splint for at least three to six weeks" and "can return to normal activities in about four months."

Hence Kerr's lack of optimism. Payton reiterated that the injury recovery will be a matter of time.

"Clearly, it's just time," Payton said. "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.

"Just taking it one day at a time, and hopefully we get a few more extra days."

The Warriors will face either a Suns team with a pair of All-Star guards in Devin Booker and Chris Paul or two-time All-NBA Mavericks guard Luka Doncic. Payton is an aggressive perimeter defender who averaged 1.4 steals in just 17.6 minutes per game during the regular season. The sooner he can return, the better for the Warriors.

Unfortunately for Payton and the Warriors, when he returns is largely out of their control.

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