Warriors

Warriors

Stephen Curry has been working in the shadows for the last three months, anticipating his return to the Warriors lineup sometime this season. On Saturday, his arrival date got a small bit of clarity. 

Two hours before Saturday's matchup against the Cavaliers, the Warriors announced that Curry, who broke his hand in October, will be re-evaluated in four weeks, with the hope he'll return "at some point" in March, continuing a conservative approach to his rehab. 

"We're really hopeful that around that time he'll be able to play," Warriors coach Steve  Kerr told reporters on Saturday afternoon. "But we'll determine that around March 1st." 

Golden State's latest announcement means Curry will miss at least 10 games over the next month. While the team announcement gives leeway around his eventual recovery, Curry himself has been targeting a March 1 return, when Golden State plays the Washington Wizards at Chase Center, as The Athletic first reported last month. The return would be on the second night of a back-to-back, just before a one-game trip to Denver. Over the next month, the Warriors have notable games against the Bucks, Lakers and Clippers.  

But Curry's wishes will have to coincide with benchmarks laid out by the team. Additionally, Kerr has historically been conservative when bringing players back from long-term injuries, often allowing an extra game off to be sure his players are healthy enough for game-action. 

 

"There's a sequence to this," Kerr said Saturday. "He needs to progress over the next month to live-action, 1-on-1, 3-on-3, 5-on-5 and that's all part of the plan." 

Curry's injury came in the midst of a unique time for this iteration of the Warriors. Title contenders for the last five years, Golden State started the season as a fringe playoff-hopefuls with Kevin Durant gone to Brooklyn and Klay Thompson assumed to be out for the season as he recovers from ACL surgery. Curry's broken hand all but sealed the team's first losing season since 2011-12. In Curry's absence, the Warriors became one of the league's worst offenses, ranking 26th in points per game and last in field goal percentage, producing an NBA-worst 10 wins. 

Nonetheless, despite NBA observers calling for Curry to sit out the rest of the season and even reports that his injury would force him to do so, the former MVP has maintained a message to anyone that would listen: I will play again this season.

[RELATED: Case for, against Russell-Wiggins trade]

In recent months, Curry has made progress on that goal. Weeks after his second surgery in December, he was shooting alongside Alec Burks following a practice. On the eve of Golden State's last home game against the Pacers, he was in the team's practice facility past 10 p.m. working out. His recent workload has coincided with his presence on the team's last three road trips. Now, as a new month begins, he'll soon be back to his true goal of playing NBA games. 

"It's fun to see Steph on the floor and on sidelines with the team," Kerr said. "The mood is brighter when Steph is around."