At the start of the offseason, the Golden State Warriors were in full celebration mode. However, those festivities quickly turned into the ruckus of the offseason, as the Warriors lost three crucial rotational players in free agency – Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II, and Nemanja Bjelica.
While they quickly replaced those players with key signings – Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green – the players they lost will be hard to replace. Payton’s defense was top-notch, Porter Jr. played big-time rotational minutes, and Bjelica acted as a great floor-spacer.
Recently, Payton went on the Truth and Basketball podcast, hosted by former NBA coach George Karl. He spoke about a variety of topics, but among them was his teammate, Stephen Curry. Payton said that he learned a lot from Curry and talked about his poise.
“Just to be a professional,” Payton explained. “He [Curry] comes in, his work ethic is ridiculous, and he stays poised, he’s always poised and calm, never panics, always takes the time to think about what’s going on, how to solve something, or whatever’s going on in his life. He breaks it down, takes the time to think, never rushes, and is just a great human being all around on and off the court.”
The new Trail Blazers guard also noted that Curry is a professional both on and off the court and that he’s very easy to talk to.
Payton: Curry is Just ‘a Regular Dude’
Curry is a two–time MVP, a four-time champion, and now, a Finals MVP. However, according to Payton, Curry is just “a regular dude” off the court. He said that Curry talks about everything from life to golf to family and is simply “a hell of a human being.”
“You can talk to him like a regular dude off the court, he talks about life, family, golf, whatever he loves to do,” said Payton. “And then on the court, he’s going to lead for you, he’s going to be that leader that you need, he’s going to show you by example and he’s going to go to bat for you. All around, (Steph) is just a hell of a human being.”
Payton only spent two seasons with the Warriors, and in the first, he only appeared in 10 games for Golden State. Last year, though, he appeared in 71 games for the Warriors, playing 17.6 minutes per contest. He averaged 7.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.4 steals on 61.6% shooting from the field and 35.8% shooting from behind the three-point line.
In addition to discussing Curry, Payton talked about his decision to leave the Warriors.
Payton: ‘I Had to Take the Money’
Golden State has made it a point to pay their players over the years, but even they had a breaking point. Portland offered Payton a three-year, $29 million deal, which he accepted. When asked about why he chose to leave the Warriors, Payton admitted that he followed the money.
“For the money. I had to take the money,” he stated. “I had to take the money, Coach. If it didn’t work out, I would’ve loved to go back to Golden State. But, you know, it just didn’t work out. Just the timing and everything, it’s just a business deal. And so, I just had to take the money.”
So, while Payton loved being teammates with Curry, he couldn’t turn down the offer from the Trail Blazers.