SAN FRANCISCO -- Though the new contract, worth roughly $215 million, secures his future with the Warriors, it is not enough for Stephen Curry.
The money maintains a lifestyle and affords his philanthropic ability, but it doesn’t feed the competitive beast in his belly. He is not of a mind to be satisfied, much less pleased, with being the exquisitely paid leader of a mediocre team.
So, please understand that once the matter of the unvaccinated Andrew Wiggins is resolved, Curry’s steeliest gaze will be fixed directly on the work of Golden State’s front office.
“We hope we have a full team for the entire year and understand that on all accounts and what the research says and things like that, that it's safe and we're all in the same boat,” Curry, addressing the Wiggins matter, said Monday. “So, we hope he's available, and if not, we'll adjust accordingly. But we hope (we won’t have to).”
But it’s the front office, led by CEO Joe Lacob and team president Bob Myers, who will determine what steps, if any, the franchise will take in its goal to reclaim elite status after missing the playoffs in two consecutive seasons.
Curry was asked if he expected the front office, despite its massive luxury tax bill, to be aggressive in pursuit of players to improve the team. Asked if he wanted them to be “very aggressive.” And asked if he would “be bothered” if they were passive.
“Yes,” he said. “To all those answers.”
Curry, 33, indicated that the message he has gotten from team executives is that they would get back to their ambitious ways while he’s still in his prime.
“Yes, in the sense of we're having those conversations where you have to be on the same page in terms of what would fill that role and that need,” he said. “But yes, I would expect all three of those questions to be yes.”
This isn’t Curry being impatient, urging Myers to bring in another star immediately. That’s not likely to happen. Curry knows that, and Myers reiterated as much.
“If you're looking for some clarity, I expect this roster to be our roster,” Myers said. “Certainly, in the near-term and probably heading into the season, and we'll see how everything goes.
“But that's what we would do, anyway, separate from rumors, separate from thoughts. When our team looks like it needs a change, that's when we start to be a little more urgent. But at this point I like the team. I want to see what the team looks like as constructed. I've been waiting for that for a long time, mostly because of injuries.”
The absence of a trade in October boosts the odds of one at the deadline in February, or during the buyout market. If the Warriors believe they are one good player away from competing for a championship, they’re likely to engage.
With Klay Thompson sidelined for at least the first two months, Golden State’s ideal roster – with Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green at the core – will be seen no sooner than late December but probably not until early 2022. The Warriors will spend the first half of the year trying to stay above .500, with the belief they’ll get appreciably better once Klay shakes off the rust accumulated during a 2.5-year absence.
Which is to say Curry will spend at least one-third of the season leaning on new acquisitions Otto Porter and Nemanja Bjelica, holdovers Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Lee and Jordan Poole, and youngsters Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman.
“I'm excited about the opportunity and the challenge,” Curry said. “It's going to take a full-fledged commitment from the coaching staff and the player development staff and the core that we have to put it all together. But we have got pieces.”
With Wiggins fully vaccinated and in the lineup every night, the Warriors have enough to be a winning team. A championship team is another matter.
Once that becomes clear, the Warriors will have to make a decision. And Curry will be watching to see if their intentions are as implied during the summer.