Everyone was happy before the Warriors took on the Phoenix Suns. The Warriors got their guy. Point guard Stephen Curry got his deal. A rainbow shone just outside the Warriors locker room.
Here is the transcript from Curry, Lacob and Myers.
How was the negotiation process?
It was a little nerve-racking, because this was a big decision. I give credit to my agent and the front-office staff for putting some good effort into figuring out a great deal. It feels good to have this done. I’m ready to move on to regular-season play and get some games under our belt.
Why make this decision?
I thought the deal was too good to pass up right now. I’ve been through a lot of injuries the past year and a half. It’s back strong and ready to go. Just knowing that that was the deal on the table and getting a lot of confidence from the ownership group, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up right now. I’m just excited about the future.
Does this mean you have faith in the organization?
For sure. I’ve gotten to know Joe Lacob, Peter Guber and Bob Myers. Those guys are part of every decision that the Warriors make. Seeing the difference from my rookie year and where the organization has gone is definitely promising, and I’m optimistic about where we can go. It’s up to us to go out and play, but they’ve done pretty much everything they can to put us in a good position.
Did you give the Warriors a discount?
For them to offer me what they did after everything I’ve been through with my ankle, it says a lot about the organization and their faith in what I can do. Things might have been different if I played out the year and played well. I don’t know what the number would have been, but that’s not a question I’m even asking myself right now. I just know that I’ll be here for the next five years, and I’ll still be fairly young when this contract is over. Hopefully, I’ll still be healthy, and I’ll be able to keep my career going.
How much did the money matter?
The security is nice. It’s nice to know that over the next four years I’ll be able to provide for my family and not have to worry about much. It’s a good opportunity to be in a good city. All of the hard work I’ve put into this and all of my family helping me growing up and being part of this whole process has been very rewarding.
Did you make it clear from the beginning that you wanted to be here?
That’s why we opened up negotiations early in September and were very open about the whole process from the start. We didn’t get anywhere before training camp, but they wanted to see how my ankle held up in the preseason. I twisted it in Portland, but I was able to bounce back pretty quickly. They know my ankle is strong. I know it’s strong. I don’t think that’s a worry right now.
Will you be OK if $11 million per year turns out to be a bargain?
Obviously, if you look at other people in my draft class or other people with comparable stats, I might be below their pay grade. But I’m not really concerned with that comparison that much. As long as we’re winning and making playoff experiences, everybody is going to make some money in this league. That’s not really what it’s about.
Did you ever doubt that this extension would come?
Not really. It did drag on until the end, and I didn’t want it to get there. My agent was very clear about the progress, and it pretty much moved every time we talked. It wasn’t ‘This is where we’re at, and we’re holding here.’ It just took a while for both sides to be happy.
Why didn’t you go for more money with incentives?
That’s just the way the negotiations went. You can always say, ‘I wonder if I could have gotten more?’ Anybody could ask that. I’m not really worried about that. I got enough to happy, and that’s all I need.
Do you think you set the tone for future negotiations with Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes?
It’s each individual’s decision for what you’re trying to get out of it and what’s right for you and your family. I don’t know if any guys are taking notes on how negotiations went. I know this was one of Bob’s first contracts, so maybe it will come into play with how he deals with it, but everybody’s decision is different. Everybody’s situation is different. It’s really hard to compare. I found that the most important thing to realize when you’re going through this. It’s easy to look at raw numbers, but there are different variables when it comes to these things.
Now that you have security, are you planning on kicking back?
I’m going to go get a tattoo, maybe. I don’t know. (Laughs) No. I could potentially be underpaid. I don’t want to be that guy who is overpaid. That’s my mission.
Exciting day for the Warriors?
It is. In the offseason, we have so many months to go through this. From the time of free agency, all you have to do is work on these things and worry about them and all that. You’re planning your team. It’s nice to just have it done, have him in the fold.
As you know, all of us at the Warriors we really like Curry. As a person, he’s terrific. Terrific. Face of the franchise. He’s also a darn good basketball player. While he’s had some injuries last year—certainly that was an issue in all of this—we’re happy to have him. We think he’s going to have a great career as a Warrior for the next five years.
Did you get him at a discounted rate?
Probably yes. These are hard to say. It all depends on what somebody else is wiling to pay. You don’t know until it goes to free agency. Then you do know because it’s a free market system. We were on the other side of that coin. You wind up paying more usually in that scenario because the truth is there are 29 other teams. All it takes its one, one out of 29 to want the guy and maybe want him really badly. Maybe it’s a need or maybe the guy’s from that area—whatever. We were also aware of the injury, which was certainly not good last year. And we had to balance all that and decide whether it was the right thing to do and we feel we got a little bit of a discount. We however demanded getting that in order to do the deal because it was the right business decision for us, and they understood that. I give a lot of credit to his agent and to Steph for recognizing that it was, at the end of the day, a fair deal for everybody.
Does it say something about the franchise that a guy like curry wants to be here?
I think so. I think everybody seems to want to be here—not only our players but, if we’re told the truth, a lot of players from other teams that are either were in free agency or going to be entering free agency. We’re building something here. We’re only two years into it. We have work to do. We have to prove it on the floor. We haven’t done that yet. But we intend to do it. What we’re doing is building something. We’ve certainly changed the culture, I think, at this point. Mark Jackson gets a lot of credit for that. The organization has changed in so many ways as most of you may know. We’re very proud of where we are but we also recognize we have a ways to go. This is two years into a multiyear project that hopefully will lead to us having a sustainably great franchise.
When you weighed the ankle risks, what gave you the most confidence that he’s going to be healthy?
We have access to more medical information than any of the media—or anybody else, frankly. It’s hard. It’s never cut and dry. It’s not black and white, especially something like this that was a chronic injury over the course of the last year. We have very good medical doctors. I have great faith in them. Our training staff is very good. We’ve replaced all of those people since we took over the team. We have to trust in their opinion, which is that overall we think this guy is going to be healthy. Anybody can get injured at any give time. We all know that. Whether it’s an ankle or knee, you hit your head and have a concussion. Things happen. So you’re never out of risk. You have guaranteed contracts in the NBA, so that’s the way it is. You have to sign these guys up, if they’re good, for a multiyear contract. You have to take some risk. Hopefully you take good risks, smart risks, and you get lucky. We think we got a pretty good deal here for a guy who, if he went to free agency and was healthy, frankly would make more. No question about it. And maybe the max. He’s taking a little bit of a hair cut. We’ re taking still a lot of risk, for somebody who is coming off of an injury.
But, you know, I want to point something out to everybody. Everyone says he’s injury prone. He was injured last year, it’s true. But his first two years in the league, he missed 10 games—10 in two years. He averaged 77 games played per year. I don’t call that injury prone. I do not think he’s an injury prone player. We had to make that evaluation again. We’re not seers. We’ll wait and see. Hopefully we made the right bet. This guy is a hard worker and he’s committed and I think he’ll be fine.
You think Curry can get back to the type of production he accomplished the second half of his rookie season?
“We think he’s very talented. He’s one of the most talented guys in the league. He can play the one or the two, but we think he’s a one. He’s maybe the best shooter in the NBA. He’s actually a very good passer, makes passes other people can’t make. He’s just got to cut down turnovers, as you know. We think he’s very talented and we think he definitely can sustain those numbers. … And he’s only played for 3 years. This guy has a huge upside. He can be a real talent in this league. And he’s a great teammate, a great playmaker. He’s going to mesh with the rest of our guys. That’s important. Quality of character is important.
Can you outline how the negotiations went?
What’s interesting about the NBA is that things usually happen around the deadline. It’s rare that it doesn’t. We began discussions for two reasons: just to get a sense of where Steph and his agent were at as far as asking, and also to show him that we believed in his health and we were committed to trying to work something out.
How would you gauge the risk you took?
Time will tell. But we felt like—obviously, we put $44 million on the table—we believe in him. It’s a big belief in his health. You could bet against it or you could bet on it. We decided to bet on it. We looked at all the information. We watched him play in the preseason, watched him practice the last four or five days. I’m well acquainted with his surgeon, Dr. Ferkel, known him for probably 10 years. Many of my former clients visit him. With all the information we had, we felt like it was a prudent decision, not knowing what he would have commanded. That was certainly part of the process. What would he have gotten if he would’ve played out this season. And even in some respects, whether he was healthy or not. We’ve seen players in free agency get some pretty big numbers?
Did you end up getting a discounted rate?
I don’t know. What did he say? (laughs)
He said it’s tough to compare
We really believe in him. Having a player want to be with an organization I think is a positive in all aspects. I think it does help you when you negotiate. Obviously if you don’t want to be somewhere, you hold a firmer line. If you want to be there, maybe you give in a little bit. How much he did that, I’m not sure. But we feel like he is one of the better PGs in the league. Clearly one of the bets people in the NBA. We think he’s going to improve and we’re very excited to have him on board for the foreseeable future. Certainly, for our organization, its important that we have players that want to be with us in the long term.
What kind of dent does this put in your cap flexibility for 2014?
I thought about that. Our group thought about what are the alternatives to not doing this? There are a couple. He could become a restricted free agent and be offered a contract similar or of higher value. He could become a restricted free agent and we choose to go into another direction. We’d have to replace the position. And that’s a hard thing to do with the amount of money we would’ve had. If you look at it on a global level, it wasn’t like if we didn’t do this we have a max space to go out and get another guy. We’re thrilled that we got the deal done because we really like him. We really believe in him. What this does is give us cost certainty in a league that’s very uncertain. We have cost certainty at a really integral position. The point guard position is of extreme importance if you want to be successful in this league.
How much did what happened with restricted free agents this offseason effect this decision?
I think it did. You have to look at comparables, look at what the market place is doing. Not only with a couple of the max contracts we saw, but some other contracts we see. The other thing to understand about restricted free agency is that when a player enters restricted free agency and receives an offer sheet—m and we will never know, thankfully, if he wouldn’t have or would have. When a team makes an offer, they have to pay a premium. They pay beyond market value. The reason being is they have to set a bar they think the team with the rights to match won’t commit to. So even if you value a player at 12, you’re not going to offer 12. You have to offer 13 or 14. We saw that in restricted free agency. To protect against that and to commit to a player we really liked in this organization, we made the deal we did and we’re happy with it
Do you think getting this done takes the load off him?
That’s something you’d have to ask him. Psychologically I think he’s a professional. Whether we would have done the deal or not, I think he would’ve come and given it all he could. Certainly for all us, for any human, to have this kind of financial security, take s a load off you. I’d be being disingenuous to say players don’t think about money. They’re people. So yeah I think now he can go out there and not worry about that part of his life. So I think hopefully that does take that off his shoulders. But I’m not sure how much it was weighing on him. I think he’s one of them players who would have played and given it his all regardless of outcome.
Would you be welling to say you couldn’t get a better PG at the price you got?
One of the principles of free agency is you have to be prepared to overpay. Sometimes its well worth it. But if you’re in free agency, it’s an open market, things can happen, at any time for any reason. If you want to guarantee yourself a player in free agency, there is two ways—you can try restricted free agency, which to me is a big overpay. Or unrestricted free agency, where you have to be a place people want to go to and you have to pay. We felt like in this situation we have a great point guard, a great person, we know who he is— that’s the other thing, we’ve been around him. If you’re going to invest in somebody and believe in somebody, he’s the type of guy you want to do it with.