Stephen Curry has been the best thing that happened to the Golden State Warriors since they won a NBA championship in 1975.
We are all in awe of all the things he does on the basketball court, from his lethal outside shooting to his scintillating handles and his outstanding court vision — Curry is the complete package.
But this reality almost did not happen because the Warriors were talking about acquiring Phoenix power forward Amar’e Stoudemire in 2009 on draft night, and Curry would have been part of the deal.
The proposed deal would have been Stoudemire coming West for the No. 7 pick (Curry), Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli. If this deal was completed, it was believed the Warriors would sign Stoudemire to a contract extension and he would be teamed up with Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson. Stoudemire was one of the most dominant big men in the game, something the Warriors did not have since drafting Chris Webber in 1993.
The Warriors also had Jamal Crawford on their roster, one of the best scorers coming off the bench. He was traded before the 2009 season to the Atlanta Hawks on draft day because coach Don Nelson and Crawford butted heads, and he was not in the future plans of Golden State. Would the Warriors have kept Crawford if they acquired Stoudemire? It appears unlikely, but may have happened.
So the question remains: Would the Warriors have been better off if they would have acquired Stoudemire? In 2009, the Warriors were one of the laughing stocks of the league, despite their “We Believe” run in 2006-07 and nearly missing the postseason in 2007-08 while accumulating 48 wins. If they acquired Stoudemire, they would have been a playoff team on paper, but the game is played on the court, and not paper.
Jackson, like Crawford, had issues with coach Nelson and the organization, but may have cooperated with the acquisition of a big man like Stoudemire. Ellis was one of the best young players in the game and a crowd favorite. Playing with Stoudemire would have made him a much more efficient player and possibly an All-Star. But like Jackson and Crawford, Ellis had issues with Nelson as well and management. However, perhaps adding Stoudemire would have changed Ellis’ perception of the franchise, as they would have added a star player to play alongside him.
Stoudemire’s acquisition would have made Oakland a destination spot for future free agents. But none of this ever happened, and if it did, the Warriors front office would have screwed it up. The Warriors management, led by owner Chris Cohan, had made some of the worst deals in NBA history, from giving Corey Maggette $50 million for five years to giving Adonal Foyle $40 million for five years. The Warriors would have kept making these dumb deals as long as Cohan was in charge.
If the Warriors had won with a team with Stoudemire, Cohan may still be the owner of this team to this day. Instead, the Warriors continued to play poorly and Cohan, because of tax evasion charges, sold the team to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber for $450 million in 2010, a franchise-changing move for this organization.
Since 2010, Lacob has made all the right moves, acquiring players like David Lee, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut and getting rid of players like Ellis, Biedrins and Anthony Randolph. He has done exceptionally well in the draft, drafting Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. He got rid of the offensive minded coach (Nelson) and brought in a defensive-minded coach in Mark Jackson.
The Warriors are one of the most exciting teams in the NBA, and appear to be there for good for the foreseeable future because of their management and the trade they did not make, giving them their first All-Star starter since 1995 in Curry.
An organization that used to be riddled with problems everywhere is now a model franchise, with the best chemistry in the NBA and destination spot for future stars, which is exactly what Stoudemire would have been for this organization.
The New York Knicks, Stoudemire’s current team, seem to be in the same predicament as the Warriors’ teams of the past, with bad ownership and constant problems between players and coaches. Stoudemire, one of the problems, has been battling knee injuries since 2009 and has a huge contract that has crippled the Knicks from becoming a title contender.
So are the Warriors better off now without Stoudemire and with Curry? Warriors’ fans would answer with a resounding, “Yes”.