Stephen Curry Contract Extension Is Risky Business for Golden State Warriors

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

October 15, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) with the ball during the first half against the Denver Nuggets  at the Pepsi Center.  The Nuggets won 104-98.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

The deal's done. The Golden State Warriors extended point guard Stephen Curry for four years and $44 million early on October 31, which is about $16 million under what Curry could have received on a max deal if he'd hit the open market this summer. Curry tweeted the news immediately.

From the Warriors' perspective, they've secured their backcourt of the future by slipping the Curry extension through on the day of the deadline to extend players from the 2009 draft class. With him locked up, and Klay Thompson's option exercised for the season after next, Golden State is set in the guard department.

But it's a little surprising the Warriors couldn't get Curry for less than they did.

When you consider that Curry's draft-class contemporary Ty Lawson got four years and $48 million from the Nuggets, it might feel like the Warriors got their man at a slight discount. But really, Lawson hasn't had anything close to the injury history Curry has. He was a risk-free investment with a pretty high ceiling. Curry’s potential may be greater than Lawson’s, but he’s a substantially riskier investment.

In giving Curry $11 million a year, the Warriors are obviously betting that his repeated ankle issues are a thing of the past. That's really hard to swallow, especially when his most recent ankle incident occurred about a week ago.

Still, Curry's talent is undeniable, and he's the type of high-character player the Warriors' new ownership has made a concerted effort to pursue. In signing him now, the Warriors eliminated the possibility of having to deal with the unpleasant fiasco of matching offer sheets from other teams in 2013.

If Curry had hit restricted free agency after this season, there was certainly a chance that he would have received at least one maximum salary offer sheet from potential suitors. The Charlotte Bobcats, Curry’s hometown team, have long been rumored to have eyes on Curry.

The Warriors may have gladly matched a max offer, especially if Curry had made it through this season unscathed. In thinking about Curry's extension in those terms, the Warriors may have saved themselves around $15 million.

But with Curry now inked for four more years, there aren't any more hypotheticals to consider. Except for the following pair:

First, if Curry’s ankle is healthy and he’s able to stay on the floor, the Warriors will have gotten a real bargain. No young guard in the league can shoot it like Curry, and he’s got the potential to be a legitimate leader and All-Star over the life of his contract extension.

But if his health issues persist, the Warriors’ decision to keep him around for this kind of money will turn out to be a terrible mistake—one that could cost the Dubs the future ability to retain their young talent.

In the end, Golden State didn’t see Curry make it through the preseason schedule without an injury, which is all the Dubs were hoping for. Despite that, the organization still saw fit to assume the risk of keeping Curry, even though it would have been totally fair to wait until after this season to see if he was worth it.

The Warriors are committed to Curry now, for better or worse.


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