Stephen Curry cashed in this offseason by signing a five-year, $US201 million deal, the biggest in NBA history at the time of the signing.
After years of being one of the NBA’s most underpaid stars, playing on a four-year, $US44 million extension he signed in 2012 amid concerns about his ankles, Curry reaped the rewards of his rise.
However, according to an excerpt from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson’s book “Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Stephen Curry,” there was a brief moment when Curry’s max contract was not a sure thing.
According to Thompson, as the Warriors prepared for the playoffs, knowing a big free agency was ahead of them, Warriors owner Joe Lacob considered offering Curry less than a max contract. Luckily for the Warriors, GM Bob Myers talked Lacob out of it and reassured Curry of the team’s intentions.
“On top of that, as the Warriors prepared for the postseason, Warriors owner Joe Lacob was considering offering Curry a contract below the max, even though Curry has been one of the most underpaid players in all of sports over the last three seasons. Warriors general manager Bob Myers kept Lacob from bringing a reduced offer to the negotiating table, but it was enough of a thing that Myers reassured Curry of the franchise’s commitment.”
Curry’s below-market contract was one of the Warriors’ greatest assets for years. It allowed them to lock up Klay Thompson and Draymond Green long term without worrying too much about tax repercussions, and it helped give them the cap space to sign Kevin Durant outright in free agency in 2016. Likewise, the precedent Curry set by not complaining about his deal helped push Durant to take less than the max this summer.
When Curry was up for a new deal, Lacob’s concerns were likely about the NBA’s harsh tax payments. With Durant and Andre Iguodala both up for new deals, Lacob likely was hoping to get a discount to lower the Warriors’ tax payments for exceeding the salary cap.
However, Curry is also a two-time MVP, two-time champion, four-time All-Star, and game-changing force. He went on to nearly average a triple-double in the Finals while playing second-fiddle to Durant. Though Durant took less money to help keep the Warriors together, it is simply unreasonable to ask a top-five player in the NBA to take a discount after playing on one for several years.
Lacob, of course, later extended the max contract with Myers, as part of a summer where the Warriors went “way over” budget, as Myers said. But it’s worth wondering if Curry would still be with the team if Lacob had had his way and offered a smaller deal.
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