OAKLAND -- Zaza Pachulia, as big and rugged as anyone in the NBA, had a surprising reaction to the seismic news that Kevin Durant was joining the Warriors.
He, too, wanted a piece that action.
“I was kind of jealous,” Pachulia said Tuesday afternoon, minutes after signing a one-year contract to become a Warrior. “But after a couple hours, I heard that I was coming here. So that was a great 24 hours for me.”
It didn’t take long for Pachulia’s agent, Jim Tanner, to tell his client of the Warriors’ interest.
The Warriors indeed had their eyes on the 6-foot-11, 275-pound center from the Republic of Georgia. They were looking to move incumbent starting center Andrew Bogut, found a taker in Dallas, and saw Pachulia as a relatively seamless fit.
Pachulia, 32, said his decision to come to the Warriors “wasn’t that difficult,” as is suggested by his $2.9 million pact representing a pay cut from last season, when he made $5.2 million in the final year of his contract with the Mavericks.
“This is something personal,” he said of his willingness to accept less. “I don’t want to keep talking about it. I made a decision. I’m proud of my decision. I’m happy with it.”
The Warriors essentially swapped Bogut (who was traded to Dallas and will make $11.13 million in the final year of his contract) for a cheaper option in Pachulia, whose reputation is of someone who, like Bogut, doesn’t flinch from mixing it up in the paint.
Though Bogut is a superior shot blocker, Pachulia may be as good a passer, is a better finisher at the rim and is considerably more reliable from the free throw line, with a career percentage of 74.6.
Pachulia said his goal is to start at center, but added that there are no assurances. There is the possibility that, with Durant in the lineup, Kerr might be open to using Draymond Green at center and reinserting Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup.
Pachulia has had words or scuffles with numerous players over the years, most recently in the first-round of the playoffs, where he engaged in a skirmish with Spurs forward David West.
They are now teammates. West last week signed a one-year deal to join the Warriors.
“I’m against the fighting. That isn’t good at all. But sometimes when you try to help the team, try to win games, there are moments when you need to get a little aggressive.”