You want to believe Stephen Curry is a superstar, you really do, but it’s still too early tell, which poses a major problem for the Golden State Warriors.
Curry is a restricted free agent at the end of this upcoming season, and considering the two-way versatility he brings to the table when he’s healthy, in conjunction with the storm of dollar sign-heavy deals given out this summer, it’s a near certainty he’s going to get paid.
But should the Warriors be the ones doing the paying?
Curry is a combo guard who has developed into quite the facilitator, to go along with one of the most deadly shooting touches in the entire NBA. But the series of injuries that plagued his right ankle last season are of serious concern, not just then, and not just now, but moving forward as well.
The guard missed 40 games of the lockout-truncated season last year, essentially ruining any hope Golden State had of contending for a playoff spot. But the Warriors have stuck with him. They opted to move Monta Ellis, instead of their arguably injury-prone sharp-shooter turned point guard. While the logic there was easy to accept—despite his high-scoring tendencies, Ellis had taken the Warriors nowhere over the years—it will be no such case when it comes to potentially extending or re-signing Curry, a scenario Golden State is already exploring, according to Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated.
Just chatted w/ Dubs GM Bob Myers–said GSW will “explore” Curry extension before 10/31 deadline. Nothing more, but he’s optimistic on deal
While retaining Curry seems like a no-brainer, how much money is Golden State supposed to invest in the 24-year-old? As effective as he can be in all aspects of the Warriors’ offensive scheme, he’s injured his ankle seven times in just three years. That’s not typical, or even acceptable, by any standards.
We get it, Curry is talented, but how do you justify lining his pockets with Serge Ibaka-like cash, or worse, James Harden-esque money, if his ankle is a perpetual question mark?
And yet, at the same time, how do you justify ridding the roster of a potential cornerstone? Curry has the potential to flourish alongside big men David Lee and—should he remain healthy as well—Andrew Bogut, and outside the confines of Ellis’ presence. The offense is officially his to run, direct and dominate, a role he has already proven to be suited for…when he’s healthy.
Sure, if Curry agrees to take a pay cut or re-sign at a discount Golden State is in business. But at such a young age, and with an uncertain health like his, Curry—or more specifically—Curry’s agent is going to look to capitalize off his value immediately. If the Warriors throw a low-ball offer his way now, Curry’s camp could pull a Nicolas Batum and wait until next summer when other teams can enter the fold. After all, Curry is not risking as much by waiting as the Warriors ultimately would be.
And that’s the problem. There is no right answer here for the Warriors. They can either take a significant financial risk now or darken the outlook of the future later.
So, how must the Warriors proceed?
At this point, with all that’s at stake, and all the mitigating factors involved, your guess is as good as mine, and ultimately, as good as Golden State’s will be.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.