Pachu­lia re­mem­bers ex-team­mates fondly

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Con­nor Le­tourneau

DETROIT — Pistons cen­ter Zaza Pachu­lia crashed one of the coaches’ meet­ings this week to share his inside knowl­edge of the War­riors’ sys­tem.

It was quite the ad­van­tage for Detroit: In his two years with Golden State, Pachu­lia, 34, started 127 games and won two NBA ti­tles. Along the way, Pachu­lia came to un­der­stand that, to beat the War­riors, a team must have near flaw­less ex­e­cu­tion.

Pachu­lia signed a one-year, $2.4 mil­lion deal with the Pistons af­ter Golden State de­cided this past sum­mer to go younger with its cen­ter ro­ta­tion. Telling Pachu­lia that the team wanted to go a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion was dif­fi­cult for head coach Steve Kerr, who had come to ap­pre­ci­ate the big man’s lead­er­ship and bas­ket­ball IQ.

“That con­ver­sa­tion was not an easy one be­cause of how much he’s meant to our team,” Kerr said. “He’s a pro. He un­der­stands how this league works. He un­der­stands the dy­nam­ics. We’ve had a lot of young guys who play the 5, and we needed them to take the next step.”

As An­dre Drum­mond’s backup in Detroit, Pachu­lia en­tered Satur­day av­er­ag­ing 4.2 points and 4.4 re­bounds in 12.7 min­utes. His con­tri­bu­tions, how­ever, ex­tend be­yond the box score. A mas­ter at set­ting screens and find­ing the open man, Pachu­lia has set­tled in as a val­ued men­tor for his younger team­mates.

In re­cent days, Pachu­lia has texted sev­eral of his old friends with the War­riors. It is the re­la­tion­ships he built, not nec­es­sar­ily the cham­pi­onships he won, that stand out most for him from his two sea­sons with Golden State.

“It was an ex­pe­ri­ence that you can’t buy,” said Pachu­lia, who will re­ceive his 2017-18 cham­pi­onship ring when the Pistons play at Or­a­cle Arena on March 24. “It’s priceless. The re­la­tion­ships that I built with guys, that’s go­ing to help me on and off the court.”

In­jury up­date: For­ward Dray­mond Green, who grew up less than 90 miles away from Detroit in Sag­i­naw, Mich., missed his home­com­ing game Satur­day be­cause of a sprained right toe.

“I hope to be back dur­ing this road trip,” said Green, who has missed the past eight games be­cause of the toe is­sue. “I had planned for pos­si­bly be­ing back by Detroit, and it hasn’t re­ally gone ac­cord­ing to plan for me.” For­ward Al­fonzo McKin­nie (sore right foot) also sat out his eighth straight game Satur­day.

Con­nor Le­tourneau is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writer.

Gre­gory Shamus / Getty Images

Detroit’s Zaza Pachu­lia, who won two rings with the War­riors, drives around ex-team­mate Jor­dan Bell in the sec­ond half.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.