The Warriors went from saying they are confident Stephen Curry can stay healthy to backing up the assertion with big money, coming to terms on a four-year deal with Curry and his oft-injured ankles to beat the Wednesday deadline for extensions to rookie deals.
The new contract is worth $44 million, Marcus Thompson II reported for the Bay Area New Group, and without health incentives.
The Warriors and point guard Stephen Curry have agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract extension, according to a team source. Curry is expected to sign the $11 million-per-year contract on Wednesday before the Warriors play Phoenix in the season opener.
Wednesday at 9 p.m. was the deadline for the Warriors to extend Curry’s rookie contract. Curry had said he wanted the situation settled before to avoid distracting him from the season opener.
The source said Curry is excited about the contract because it gives him the three things he wanted: to stay with the Warriors, security, and a “reasonable” salary. His deal doesn’t include any bonuses or incentives. Curry has said all along he wanted to stay with the Warriors.
There was uncertainty over whether the Warriors and Curry would reach a deal considering his ankle issues. He missed 40 games last season due to ankle sprains. After surgery in April, he worked his way back onto the court, then sprained his ankle again on Friday.
The desire from both sides to get an agreement was never in doubt – Curry wanted to stay and the Warriors wanted to keep him. The uncertainty was how much the aggressive Golden State management was willing to put on the line now or whether they would come with a low-ball offer with the intention of seeing if Curry’s ankles could hold up an entire season.
The Warriors could have waited and re-signed him as a restricted free agent in summer 2013, either with their own agreement or by matching an offer sheet from another team. That would have allowed an opponent to go to work on their salary cap — ask the Trail Blazers how that can turn out after the Nicolas Batum/Timberwolves negotiation — or forced a bigger payday if Curry had a big 2012-13. But waiting would have allowed Golden State a long-term evaluation on his health with the safety net of restricted free agency.
As Curry told NBA.com in August when asked what he would do as general manager: “I don’t know. You’re playing chess with it. If they were to take that approach to wait and I’ve had a great season, hopefully it would spark some interest across the league for the future and the price would drive up. If I were the Warriors, I’d offer a reasonable amount and sign me up now.”
An average of $11 million a year is definitely reasonable for Curry. This was no low ball. 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 Warriors being proactive is nothing new. This is a new level of proactive, though, dependant on much more than gut feelings about hiring an untested coach and general manager or basketball evaluations on roster moves. They’re playing chess with it.