|The Warriors are counting on Stephen Curry to team with Andrew Bogut for years to come. (US Presswire)|
Curry signed a $44 million, four-year contract extension before Wednesday night's season opener at Phoenix that will keep the point guard with the Warriors through the 2016-17 season. It was the final day Golden State could sign Curry to an extension or he would become a restricted free agent next summer.
"I just thought the deal was too good to pass up right now," Curry said before the Warriors' season opener against the Suns. "Obviously I've been through a lot of injuries the last year and a half with my ankle, but it's back strong and ready to go."
Curry missed 40 of 66 games last season and sprained his twice-surgically repaired right ankle again in the preseason, sitting out the final two exhibitions at the request of second-year coach Mark Jackson. New Warriors general manager Bob Myers and owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber felt the point guard was still worth the risk given his production when healthy.
"This is an exciting day for the Warriors and our fans and it certainly exemplifies the commitment of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber," Myers said in a statement. "We're extremely pleased that we have reached an agreement that will enable Stephen to remain a vital part of our team long term. His contributions over the last three years, both on the floor and in the community, have been invaluable to our organization. We certainly expect him to be an integral part of our future success as he continues to evolve as a player in all facets of the game."
The 24-year-old Curry averaged career lows of 14.7 points, 5.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds last season. He has still proven to be one of the NBA's most prolific scorers when he's on the court, shooting 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range in his first three seasons.
Curry said he believed in the direction the team is heading.
"I've just seen the difference from my rookie year of where the organization is going," he said. "It's definitely promising and I'm optimistic about where we can go, especially with what we did over the summer and even last year in getting such a deep roster, them making moods and putting a good product on the floor. It's up to us now to go out and play."
The Warriors are counting on Curry to form half of the new franchise tandem.
Curry is expected to team with center Andrew Bogut, who didn't play in the preseason. The team has said Bogut has not had any setbacks on his surgically repaired left ankle, which he fractured on Jan. 25 while with Milwaukee and missed the rest of the season.
Bogut came to Golden State in a swap for guard Monta Ellis, among others, before last season's trade deadline. Bogut had hoped to return for the season opener, but the team never set any deadline, and even if the 7-footer from Australia played it likely won't be for extended minutes.
Curry sat out the last two exhibitions after he sprained his right ankle at Portland on Oct. 19. The former Davidson star and native of Charlotte, N.C., drafted seventh overall by the Warriors in 2009, had arthroscopic surgery in April and had surgery to repair a tendon in the ankle in the summer of 2011.
Golden State signed Curry at somewhat of a discount. Ty Lawson signed a four-year, $48 million extension with the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Without the ankle concerns, Curry would've likely commanded at least that much.
"Right now, for them to offer me what they did after what I've been through says a lot about, one, where my ankle is now, but, two, just their faith in what I can do," Curry said. "Obviously things would have been different playing out the year, me playing well, next year I don't what the number would have been, but that's not even a question I'm asking myself now. `'
The Bogut-Curry combo has enough support around it for the Warriors to believe they have a strong shot to make the playoffs for only the second time since 1994 -- if all can stay healthy, which hasn't been the case in recent seasons.
Power forward David Lee, who has averaged close to a double-double most of his career and missed the end of last season following surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle, will start along with second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson and seventh overall pick Harrison Barnes of North Carolina at small forward.