A little over three years ago, Stephen Curry signed a 4-year, $44 million extension to remain with the Golden State Warriors. You may have forgotten this by now – which would be understandable, after the birth of the Splash Brothers, an avalanche of 3-pointers, an MVP award, and an NBA Championship – but in September and October of 2012, before Curry signed that deal, the word “risk” was thrown around when talking about the Warriors lavishing him with the extension.
The reason it was deemed risky? Ankle injuries in the year leading up to signing the extension. Curry missed one game in three years at Davidson (ankle). In year two with the Warriors he had a couple minor right ankle tweaks and missed eight games. After the season, he had ankle surgery in May 2011. In year three with the Warriors (the strike-shortened season), ankle injuries limited him to just 26 games. Before his 4th season began, he re-aggravated the ankle injury.
So after five seasons of basketball – three healthy ones in college, and two in the pros – the season leading up to his contract was best by injury. (Curry actually tried changing shoes at one point). And thus, the word “risk” was tossed around. It was easy to look at Curry’s spindly frame and assume from his ankle injuries, maybe he was fragile. But it’s not like he was Derrick Rose, flying recklessly through the lane on a nightly basis.
Going through the internet archives, here’s a smattering of pre-extension Curry chatter:
This was the Warriors taking on financial risk with a player who is clearly talented, but who has also been knocked from the lineup five times the last two regular seasons, not counting similar problems in past exhibition play. He would get hurt running downcourt without being touched. He had surgery on the right ankle in April. He hurt it again this preseason, though in a collision, and was held out of games.
The Golden State Warriors shouldn’t give Stephen Curry a big contract extension yet. If he wants to agree to a deal well below market rate (somewhere in the range of four years and $30 million), great! Sign him up. But if he’s looking for anything approaching max money (something like five years for $45 million), forget it.
It’s still a huge bet on Golden State’s part. Doing nothing — i.e., just losing Curry in free agency at whatever cost — was an option, though probably not a realistic one for a new ownership group looking to make a splash.
The Warriors can also deal a productive Curry at that $11 million number, and it will be interesting to see if they quietly shop him if he gets off to a hot start next season, knowing how fast the market will collapse upon one more turn of that right ankle.
New Warriors general manager Bob Myers and Lacob felt Curry was still worth the risk given the point guard’s production when healthy.
There are many other reasons why the Warriors’ decision to extend Curry is risky. Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not Curry can get on the floor. The Warriors had better hope so, or their risky investment will be for naught.
In the three years since the ankle injury, Curry has been almost perfectly healthy: He’s only missed 10 games in the last 3+ seasons, and that’s probably because he needed rest. (Here’s a terrific read on how he changed his workouts.)
In that time, he’s also become the greatest 3-point shooter in NBA history (he made 286 three-pointers last season; the most Larry Bird ever made in a season was 90; the most Reggie Miller ever made was 229), captured an MVP award, and won a title.
The Warriors are 20-0 this season after beating Charlotte on the road. Curry scored 28 points in the third quarter, and had 40 for the game.