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Gary Payton II is out for the Golden State Warriors' second-round series, but perhaps not the entire playoffs if everything goes according to plan.
The Warriors guard is out three to five weeks with an elbow fracture sustained from a hard foul by Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks in Game 2, sources told Yahoo Sports senior NBA insider Chris Haynes.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 5, 2022
The foul occurred early in the first quarter of Memphis' 106-101 win at FedExForum. Payton was driving for a layup with a clear path to the rim when Brooks rushed in from behind for an attempted chasedown block. Rather than hit the ball, Brooks made direct contact with Payton's head and sent him awkwardly to the floor, where he landed on a fully extended left arm.
Brooks was assess a Flagrant 2 foul for the incident, an automatic ejection.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) May 4, 2022
The Warriors obviously weren't happy with Brooks over the unnecessarily hard foul, with head coach Steve Kerr saying "That wasn't physical, that was dirty" after the first quarter and claiming the guard "broke the code" after game.
Where Warriors are without Gary Payton II
Payton's time in this series is over after posting eight points, seven assists and three rebounds in 23 minutes in Game 1. He played only two minutes in Game 2. He has been one of the team's best stories this year, going from spending much of his time in the G League to becoming a real rotation piece for a contender.
Payton's defense will be missed in particular. The Warriors elevated him to the starting lineup because he was their best option to defend Grizzlies star Ja Morant. Without him, the Warriors watched Morant drop 47 points for the key win.
The Warriors have plenty of perimeter players to throw at Morant, but it's hard to see any one name stepping up to the level of Payton.
The good news is Payton isn't done for the season, as a three-week return would return him midway through the Western Conference finals if the Warriors make it that far. Even a five-week return would conceivably have him back in time to see some NBA Finals action, which begins on June 2.