Stephen Curry, after being serenaded by about 6,000 fans at Oracle Arena for Wednesday’s rally, talked to the crowd about the future of the Warriors.
“We just need to get some people back,” Curry said, then he paused and turned to stare at forward Carl Landry.
Landry has one year left on his contract, paying him $4 million. But he has an option to skip the last year and become a free agent. Time is ticking on him to decide and he said he is feeling the pressure.
He called it the hardest decision of his career.
CARL LANDRY: “I mean, this is the best team I’ve ever played for on this level, especially as far as chemistry. And the scary thing is we’ve been together one year.”
Landry, who I caught up with after Oakland’s rally for the Warriors’ on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena, doesn’t hesitate to say he wants to return to the Warriors. But it makes very little sense for him to play next season under his current contract:
- No player wants to play on a one-year deal if they don’t have to. With no long-term security, the risk of injury is too great. Most players would rather a multi-year deal at a lower rate than a one-year deal at a slightly higher rate
- This year is a much better market for Landry. If he plays one year and becomes a free agent in 2014, he could have to wait in line behind other power forwards such as Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Zach Randolph, Pau Gasol, Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemore, Derrick Favors, Larry Sanders, Greg Monroe and Ed Davis
- Playing the final year of his contract eliminates the possibility of the payday he’s been looking for. Landry had a solid year for the Warriors. He fizzled after a hot start, but bounced back well in the playoffs. NBA teams are known for throwing big money around. How could Landry not even test the waters when a three-year, $15 to $20 million could be out there?
When asked about all the reasons it makes sense for him to opt out, Landry brought up a bit of recent history to suggest there is a possibility he could play out his contract.
LANDRY: “I took a lesser deal to come with the Warriors, remember? It could happen.”
Landry said Golden State did not approach him about extension talks. But management, he said, has “showed they are very interested in bringing me back.”
He said it’s not about money. He’s also looking for the right situation. He wants a great coach and good teammates. He said he wants the opportunity to play in the postseason.
LANDRY: “Basically, everything we had this year.”
Even if Landry opts out — which, it would be shocking if he didn’t — that doesn’t mean he is leaving the Warriors. Playing out his contract could guarantee he plays next season with Golden State. But Landry said Golden State is his first option.
The likelihood is he will opt out and see what the market brings. And the Warriors will wait to see what his value is on the market (kind of like they did last offseason when they signed him late in the offseason). If someone gives Landry too big a deal, the Warriors will tip their hat and tell Landry good luck. If it turns out his offers aren’t that good, Warriors GM Bob Myers will have the upper hand and try to get Landry for a bargain price.
The Warriors and Landry could prevent that situation by negotiating a deal early in the free agency period. Golden State, over the salary cap, could sign Landry to the non-bird execption, which allows the Warriors to give him a 20 percent raise in the first year of a deal (about $4.8 million — which with 4.5% raises is about a three-year deal worth $15 million).
LANDRY: “The Warriors are home whether I opt in or out. Hopefully, I can spend the rest of my career here because this is a very special place. Everything here is what you want: the city, the fans, the front office, the coach, the teammates. You can’t ask for anything more.”