SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Warriors celebrated the opening of Chase Center on Tuesday, an old friend was enjoying his first day on a new job at the new arena.
Former Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who played with Golden State for two seasons from 2016 through 2018, is back with the organization as a consultant.
"It's great to be back," Pachulia told NBC Sports Bay Area. "So many familiar faces. ... Today's my first day in the office in my new job, so I'm very excited."
In his new role, the 16-year NBA veteran will work in both the basketball and business sides of the organization, helping the team with community events.
Pachulia signed with the Warriors three years ago, and the Georgian big man won back-to-back titles in his two seasons with the team. He spent last season with the Detroit Pistons, and Pachulia now returns to a much different team than the one he left.
Star forward Kevin Durant opted to sign with the Brooklyn Nets two months ago in free agency, and that prompted a trade to acquire All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell from the Nets. Russell is one of just eight new players on the roster, while Klay Thompson -- Pachulia's onetime teammate and permanent comedic foil -- is expected to be sidelined until midseason after tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Still, Pachulia believes Golden State will contend this season.
"I was taking a tour around the Chase Center the other day and went to the locker room and there are a lot of younger guys ... and a perfect opportunity for them to prove ... to show themselves," Pachulia said. "It's going to be an interesting year. They have a great coaching staff -- one of the best in the business -- and I'm sure coach [Steve] Kerr will use those players in the right way."
As for Thompson, Pachulia thinks his former teammate will be effective when he returns to the floor.
"I know he's in good spirits," Pachulia said. "He's enjoying his time. I'm sure he's feeling better because I saw his dance moves at the [Chicago Cubs] game."