Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has been the best bargain in the NBA for the last three years and he’ll continue to be the best bargain during the upcoming 2016-17 season. But come next summer, the Warriors and every other team in potential pursuit of Curry will have to pay full market price.
The two-time MVP, the first ever selected unanimously, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2017 and ESPN’s Marc Stein reports Curry could see the annual salary on his next deal balloon as much as 200 percent.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 28, 2016
That grand total would represent a new standard in the league. He’d blow past the five-year $152.6 million deal the Memphis Grizzlies gave point guard Mike Conley earlier this summer as the richest deal in league history in terms of total dollars.
Conley, while considered a solid point guard, benefitted from the NBA’s recent salary cap surge. Due to the league’s new television contract kicking in this season, teams salary caps inflated to $94 million this year compared with $72 million last year. And before the 2017-18 season, the cap’s expected to blow past the $100 million barrier.
While the raise coming Curry’s way is certainly exorbitant, it would be a way for him to make up for lost earnings. Over the last three seasons, the 28-year-old’s become one of the most lethal scorers of his generation and perhaps in league history, while claiming those two MVPs, a scoring title, rewriting the three-point shooting record books and helping Golden State win its first championship in 40 years.
But without the relatively cheap contract Curry signed in 2012, neither he nor Golden State could have accomplished nearly as much. This coming season, Curry will earn $12.1 million in the final year of that contract, which makes him the 82nd highest-paid player in the NBA and the 16th highest-paid point guard.
Shooting guard and fellow “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson also took a lower than expected contract, and both deals allowed the Warriors to keep their young core together. Without those deals, Golden State general manager Bob Myers may not have been able to offer All-Star forward Draymond Green a five-year, $82 million deal the summer after the Warriors won it all. They also let Myers further pad the roster with important veterans like Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and four-time scoring champion and former MVP Kevin Durant.
There will, of course, be talk buzzing around Curry throughout the season about his intentions next summer, but on Tuesday he largely batted away any such talk in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News. Curry was asked if he would talk to Durant (who shockingly jettisoned this year the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Warriors after years of speculation over his decision) about becoming a free agent.
“Maybe,” Curry said. “But I’m not gonna let it distract me at all. I want to be back here. I like playing here. And that’s it. The rest of it is about what we’re gonna do this year.”