Sunday, November 27, 2022

Warriors coach Steve Kerr opens up about beloved ex-Dubs guard

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Tuesday night’s exhibition win for the Golden State Warriors over the Portland Trail Blazers wasn’t just a big one because of the points difference, although it was definitely a seismic spread of 131-98. There was more to write home about than James Wiseman’s 18-7 line, Moses Moody’s 20-piece and also Pat Spencer’s sick dunk.

Notably, the game marked Dub Nation favorite Gary Payton II’s big return to the Bay Area and the Chase Center, where just months ago he played a key role in helping the Warriors win their fourth championship in the last eight years .

Unfortunately, the fans present lacked something in return. Along with six-time All-Star and Oakland native Damian Lillard, Payton was eliminated from the competition by Portland.

Still, he was able to enjoy a moment or two with his old teammates and coaches on the eve of the game, and Steve Kerr reported on that reunion before the competition.

During Kerr’s pregame media availability, the Warriors coach confirmed that Payton had been meeting up with his old running mates. However, whether or not he actually wanted to do it at that moment is up for debate.

“Yeah, we saw him yesterday,” Kerr told reporters. “He came down when they were practicing downstairs. Maybe he just went down those stairs out of habit and came down to say hello to everyone.”

Regardless of what prompted him to take those stairs, the entire Golden State locker room — which, honestly, could probably use some good vibes right now — was over the moon to see him.

“It’s been amazing. Everyone loves Gary… We miss him but we couldn’t be happier for him,” Kerr said before opening up about the 29-year-old’s long and winding road to becoming a star (and, more importantly, enduring ) place in the Association is considering .

“He’s been toiling in this league for a long time and has earned this contract. Couldn’t happen to a better guy so it will be nice to see him out there tonight. I wish he was on our side, but that’s the NBA and that’s how it works. We are happy for him.”

Payton ended up with the Blazers after the club offered him a three-year contract worth more than $26 million (one that also included a player option last year).

While that’s an incredibly reasonable rate for a key finalist and a player who averaged 15 points, seven boards, and three steals per 36 minutes while shooting a whopping 61.6% of his shot attempts during the regular season (at just 6-foot 3) made , the luxury tax-paying dubs just couldn’t bid on this scale.

This result was not only a punch in the gut for the Warriors, but for Payton himself.

“It did not work. I would like to return to the Golden State, but it hasn’t worked out. Just the timing and everything. Just one deal and all I had to do was take the money,” Payton told former longtime NBA coach George Karl on his podcast.

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