Hall of Fame point guard and Seattle SuperSonics legend Gary Payton is ready to return to the NBA 13 years after he last played in the association. More specifically, the 52-year-old is eyeing a move to the coaching ranks, a revelation he made during an interview with Yahoo Sports‘ Chris Haynes.
“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. “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.”
He went on to say “I have knowledge to share and I’m ready to help.”
Although he’s never been a part of an NBA coaching staff, the former nine-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist is not entirely inexperienced on the sidelines. From 2017 to 2019, Payton served as head coach for the Three-Headed Monsters in Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league. All three seasons resulted in playoff runs for the club. They lost in the 2017 championship game and fell in the semifinal round of subsequent seasons. The team was aiming to make it four straight postseason appearances in 2020 before the BIG3 season was ultimately canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Payton also played for a number of well-respected coaches throughout his career, including K.C. Jones, George Karl, Paul Westphal, Nate McMillan, Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy and Pat Riley. During his interview with Haynes, he credited Karl, Sonics assistant coach Tim Grgurich and player development guru Eric Hughs as being “the extra voices” that helped him become one of the all-time basketball greats.
The Oakland, California native spent the better part of two decades in the association as a player, including a 13-year run in Seattle. In more than 1,300 games played over that time span, the 6-foot-4 point guard averaged 16.3 points, 6.7 assists and 1.8 steals per contest, as recorded by Basketball-Reference. He currently ranks fourth all-time in steals and 10th in assists.
He won a championship in 2006 as a member of the Miami Heat.
Payton isn’t the only Hall of Fame-level point guard without previous coaching experience looking to share their extensive knowledge with the next generation of hardwood stars. As reported by The Inquisitr earlier this week, Detroit Pistons legend and 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups will be joining Tyronn Lue’s staff with the Los Angeles Clippers.