Blazers' Payton expected to be ready for season opener after core surgery

Sam Forencich / National Basketball Association / Getty

Portland Trail Blazers wing Gary Payton is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season after undergoing surgery in July for a core muscle injury, the team announced Friday.

Payton was the Blazers' marquee free-agent signing this summer. The journeyman inked a three-year, $28-million deal with Portland after a breakout campaign with the Golden State Warriors.

Payton averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 boards across a career-high 71 appearances in 2021-22. He was particularly effective on the defensive end, finishing 18th in the Association in average steals per game (1.4) and total steals (96).

The Oregon State product went undrafted in 2016 and bounced back and forth between the NBA and G League over the next five years.

Payton turned heads during the 2021 G League campaign with the Raptors 905, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors and leading his peers with 2.5 steals per contest.

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Blazers' Payton expected to be ready for season opener after core surgery
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