Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton says he wants to start career as NBA coach

The coaching carousel has been moving fast this offseason, with all sorts of firings and hirings in the past few months. Ty Lue just took the Clippers job, replacing Doc Rivers who was let go after seven years with the club. Rivers, in turn, got the Sixers job, taking over for Brett Brown, who himself was fired after seven years. 

Then there was Billy Donovan, who parted ways with the Thunder to take the Bulls job, stepping in for the recently fired Jim Boylen. Meanwhile, Mike D’Antoni is out in Houston, Alvin Gentry is done in New Orleans and Nate McMillan got sent packing from Indiana. And, of course, Steve Nash swooped in to take the Nets job, and Tom Thibodeau is back, joining the Knicks as their new head coach. 

With a number of jobs still open, both in terms of head coaches and assistants, a familiar name has thrown his name in the hat: Gary Payton. The Hall of Fame point guard is unlikely to get a head coaching gig right away — though Nash did without any prior experience — but he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he wants to get into the business. 

“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.”

It’s impossible to know how Payton would do as a coach without him actually giving it a shot — he does have some experience coaching in the BIG3, though that’s obviously not the same as an NBA gig — but there are few people in the world with his experience and understanding of the game. If he wants to join the coaching ranks to pass on his knowledge to the younger generation, he should absolutely get that chance. 

Payton retired in 2007 after 18 seasons in the league. He spent most of that time with the then-Seattle SuperSonics, leading them to the Finals in 1996, where they lost to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. He eventually won a ring with the Heat in 2006, capping off a Hall of Fame career in which he made nine All-Star Games, nine All-Defensive Teams, won Defensive Player of the Year and established himself as arguably the best perimeter defender of all-time. 

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