SAN FRANCISCO – The Golden State Warriors’ battle for 15th place entered its next stage on Saturday as the team gave fans a proper scrum during their annual open practice.
The Warriors made goaltender Langston Galloway their first game of training camp after the scrum, in which contender Gary Payton II made his preseason debut in 5v5.
After undergoing surgery on his hernia last month, Payton missed Golden State’s first two preseason games, but the defensive mainstay will play against the Lakers on Tuesday, coach Steve Kerr confirmed.
“He worked really hard. We love Gary, ”Kerr said on Saturday. “It was really tough timing for him with the injury. I’m very happy for him that he can play.
Payton shared the pitch with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Otto Porter Jr., Moses Moody, Jordan Bell and Mychal Mulder as part of the Blue squad during the squad scrum on Saturday.
“It’s just great going up and down,” Payton said. “To hang out with guys, to feel good emotions, to get flights, easy buckets.”
Veteran Avery Bradley, another ballhawk, seemed to have the fast lane on last place on the roster, should the Warriors choose to fill it. Already in the luxury tax with the league’s highest payroll, Golden State has indicated it will have to be the right fit.
Curry has asked management to take responsibility for filling out the list to its full extent.
The Warriors star guard described Bradley as a “bulldog” and said “that’s why he’s here.” The 31-year-old was in Golden State’s first set of substitutions in his first two preseason games.
Payton brings a similar reputation but 3 years younger and with fewer references.
He will be entitled to two preparatory matches and a week of training to prove that he is worth it.
Payton said he got the procedure as soon as possible knowing a job could be on the line at training camp, but now that he’s back on the pitch, but two weeks after competing, he said that he didn’t feel “too much” pressure.
“I know what’s at stake,” Payton said. “I’ve been with the organization for a few months now; they know what i can do. … While this was happening, I would still be a general practitioner. … Cause disruption, havoc, get hold of a lot of ball deflection. And do what I do on offense with my cutting and play-making ability.… Just go over there and do what I can do.
“A real treat” for the fans
While the Warriors’ open training is an annual tradition, it’s not often as fun as Saturday. Instead of going through drills, the team treated the roughly 9,000 fans who paid the $ 5 entry fee to a 24-minute scrum.
One tradition has remained the same: The rookies took over the sound system after training to perform a song of their choice. The soft-spoken Moses Moody went first with Bow Wow’s “Basketball” and got help from the crowd during the chorus. Jonathan Kuminga called veteran Andre Iguodala to center court to help him perform a piece by Nigerian artist Burna Boy.
“I think it’s a rite of passage for young people,” Kerr said. “It is always a source of pleasure and connection. Vets love it. And for young people, getting through this day is a big problem. It is scary to go and sing in front of 9,000 people. This is something the team always looks forward to.
Jonathan Kuminga chooses Burna Boy (ft. Andre Iguodala) pic.twitter.com/nUjr0xbADA
– Evan Webeck (@EvanWebeck) October 9, 2021
Even stars like Curry and Draymond Green have spent a lot of time in the field.
The only players not to participate were injured, including Andrew Wiggins, who is treating a painful knee. Kerr said Wiggins would be fine and they wanted to give him three consecutive days off to heal. Klay Thompson felt ill and decided to stay home; his jersey still made an appearance on Juan Toscano-Anderson.
The format change was purely out of necessity, Kerr said, but it resulted in a “much more fun” event.
“I think the fans had a real treat,” Kerr said. “Watching all of our guys play, then hear all this beautiful singing afterwards.”