Some past players join the coaching ranks after they retire, but until now, Gary Payton wasn’t ready to join them. The Hall of Famer and former Seattle SuperSonics star spoke with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports about his interest in joining an NBA coaching staff.
“I have had conversations in the past about coaching, but the timing wasn’t right. I believe I now am ready to coach,” Payton told Yahoo Sports in a phone interview Thursday night. “A lot of young NBA players are a voice away from reaching their true potential. I would like to join an NBA staff where I can help coach, mentor and guide players toward the hard work, focus and determination needed to become a reliable contributor to a team’s success.”
The Glove has a lot to contribute to any potential staff after playing 17 season in the NBA, where he was a nine-time All-Star, named to the All-NBA First team nine times, and received the 1998 Defensive Player of the Year award. He has coached in the Big3 since 2017.
Payton has plenty of Pacific Northwest connections: besides his 13 years with the Seattle SuperSonics, he played for Oregon State University, where he still holds several records and led them to three NCAA tournament appearances. His son, Gary Payton II, also played for Oregon State and joined the Portland Trail Blazers training camp squad for a stint in 2018.
But he also has Oakland roots, something that could be important should a team like the Trail Blazers end up with room on their coaching staff. An addition like Payton could provide the Blazers with the defensive edge they have been lacking since the departure of David Vanterpool. It remains to be seen if and when any of the coaching staff will depart, but regardless, Payton would be one option to look at if he doesn’t land elsewhere first.