Three years after injuries threatened to derail his career, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is the NBA’s MVP.
Though Curry was an immediately productive player upon entering the league in 2009 — an elite shooter and crafty ball-handler who looked like a borderline perennial All-Star — he struggled to stay on the court in his third year.
In 2011-12, Curry played just 26 games and was having recurring ankle problems. By the 2012 season, he’d already had two offseason ankle surgeries, and there were worries that his career would be cut short if the issues were chronic.
Despite these worries, the Warriors and Curry agreed to a four-year, $US44 million extension in October 2012. Even though it was well below the maximum extension of five-years, $US80 million that Curry was eligible for, the contract was considered a risk.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe glowed about Curry’s potential in a post about the extension, but called it a “huge bet” because “nobody has any idea if he can stay on the floor.”
ProBasketball Talk’s Brett Pollakoff said at the time, “The deal seems like a better one for Curry than it does for the Warriors on the surface, as the team is betting all that money that Curry’s ankle problems are a thing of the past, and that he can once again be a productive player who missed only 10 games combined over his first two NBA seasons.”
Pollakoff spoke to then Warriors GM Bob Meyers, who said of the extension: “Time will tell, but we felt like obviously we put $US44 million dollars on the table (to show) that we believe in him. It’s a big belief in his health; you can bet against it or you can bet on it, and we decided to bet on it.”
Now, the combined $US23.4 million Curry will make over the next two seasons is the best bargain in the NBA. Not only is Curry the NBA’s MVP, he’s the most dangerous shooter in the league — a player capable of blowing up any defensive scheme and taking over any game at any time.
His contract gives the Warriors a huge advantage going forward. Curry isn’t even their third-highest player going forward. The Warriors’ nucleus of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, and Draymond Green (assuming they re-sign him this offseason) will all make eight-figure salaries going forward, but with the huge camp jump in 2016 and 2017, the Warriors should have the ability to add even more talent around that group.
That advantage will end for the Warriors in 2017 when Curry becomes a free agent and re-signing him will cost them over $US30 million per season. In the meantime, the Warriors took a gamble on a promising, but risky prospect and came out far on top.
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