When his phone stopped ringing during the NBA free agency frenzy last month, Zaza Pachulia wondered if he would have the opportunity to extend his career into a 17th season.
Then came a call the veteran center was not expecting.
It was Kirk Lacob, executive vice president of basketball operations for the Warriors, and he wanted to know if Pachulia might be interested in rejoining the team in an off-court capacity.
Yes, because he enjoyed most everything about his two seasons with the Warriors.
No, because Pachulia, who entered the NBA as a 19-year-old in 2003, wasn’t sure he was ready to call it quits.
A few days later, after discussing the possibility with his family and, among others, his good friend Klay Thompson, it was unanimously concluded this was the perfect opportunity for Pachulia to begin his transition from player to what he hopes will be an executive position.
“Honestly, I wanted to keep playing,” he told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “At first I got a couple calls from different teams. But it didn’t go the way I wanted. Then in the middle of July, it got very quiet. I kind of sensed it would be difficult to play another year.”
Lacob’s phone call led to the official announcement that Pachulia will be full-time consultant next season. He’ll do some coaching, probably with the team’s young big men, but he also will participate in player personnel discussions and perhaps some scouting.
“Coming from the team and franchise where I have so many amazing memories, probably the best memories of my career . . . honestly, I took it as a chance to retire and still stay with basketball,” said Pachulia, who has settled in the Bay Area with his family.
“If you’re going to start a new chapter, this is the way to do it,” he added. “At some point, I figured this is better than playing for another team. I can learn from the best.”
Pachulia says he’ll be all ears, willing to absorb any morsels of knowledge he can from coach Steve Kerr and his staff, as well as general manager Bob Myers, COO Rick Welts and Lacob.
“It’s very exciting,” Pachulia said. “Even though, the games are over, I’m not sad at all. I’m thankful to have 16 years, with so many great moments.
“It’s good to be wanted and I can’t wait to start. I know I’m going to learn a lot. At the same time, I get to share my experience as well.”