Why GS Warriors Must Think Twice About Long-Term Extension for Stephen Curry

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 25:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors congratulates his teammates during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Oracle Arena on March 25, 2011 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

You might have forgotten that Stephen Curry even played for the Golden State Warriors after the 24 year-old guard missed nearly two-thirds of the 2011-12 season with ankle problems.

But yes, the emergent point guard is still very much a part of the organization's plans, and likely for the long-haul. CSNBayArea.com's Matt Steinmetz reports that the Warriors could extend Curry prior to the start of the regular season:

“I’m very optimistic about getting a deal done,” said Lance Young, Curry’s representative. “I think we can get something done by the 31st (Oct. 31, the deadline for Curry to sign a deal).”

In theory, of course it would be nice to keep Curry around for as long as possible; or the four seasons covered by an extension.

In practice, the case for hanging on to Curry is a bit less clear cut.

Yes, the Warriors are set to have loads of cap room in the summer of 2014, perhaps even enough to re-sign Andrew Bogut and another high-impact free agent (along with the already-extended Curry). But Golden State also has to think about the two summers thereafter, when Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes become free agents.

The two scorers could become pretty expensive in the event Thompson continues to build upon his rookie success (12 ppg shooting 44 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three last year) and Barnes turns into the player the Warriors believe he can be.

It would be difficult to keep both players along with Bogut and Curry, and next to impossible to keep them without letting role players like Jarrett Jack, Brandon Rush and Carl Landry walk over the course of the next two summers.

If all goes well between now and decision-time, Golden State could find itself in the kind of situation the Oklahoma City Thunder now face: Attempting to preserve an elite young core without spending tens of millions in luxury taxes.

In some respects, it's a good problem to have. At the very least, the Warriors would have some young assets to exchange for more affordable veterans and/or less expensive prospects.

And if there were any guarantee that Curry would continue to play at the level he demonstrated in his first two seasons, locking him up would be a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, those guarantees don't exist, and there's just no way for Curry to legitimately assuage those concerns in the preseason alone. GM Bob Meyers might be counting on Curry coming cheaper now than he would after rebounding with a healthy 2012-13 campaign and attracting big-money attention as a restricted free agent.

But that assumes he has such a season.

In the event Curry regresses or falls victim to nagging injury problems, the Warriors would be on the hook for an expensive, and avoidable, mistake.

If Curry can prove his durability this season, he's probably worth the extra money in the long-term. If he can score 20 points a game while dishing six assists, there's no reason to under-compensate him.

If he's instead doomed to a part-time career and diminished effectiveness, there's no reason to build around him. 

This season should be a telling one, and that's why inking a deal prematurely doesn't make as much sense as it might seem.