Warriors GM explains team’s reasoning behind Stephen Curry’s contract extension

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As we mentioned earlier, the Warriors and Stephen Curry came to terms on a contract extension worth $44 million over four years.

The deal seems like a better one for Curry than it does for the Warriors on the surface, as the team is betting all that money that Curry’s ankle problems are a thing of the past, and that he can once again be a productive player who missed only 10 games combined over his first two NBA seasons.

Before Wednesday night’s season opener against the Suns in Phoenix, Warriors GM Bob Myers met with the media to discuss the reasons he and the organization weren’t concerned about the injury risk, and felt good about locking up Curry at that price.

“Time will tell, but we felt like obviously we put $44 million dollars on the table (to show) that we believe in him,” Myers said. “It’s a big belief in his health; you can bet against it or you can bet on it, and we decided to bet on it.

“We looked at all the information, we watched him play in the preseason, we watched him practice the last four or five days. I’m well-acquainted with his surgeon, I’ve known him for probably 10 years. With all the information we had, we felt like it was a prudent decision — not knowing what he would have commanded (on the free agent market), and that was certainly part of the process, as in, what would he have gotten if he would have played out this season? And even in some respects, whether he was healthy or not. We’ve seen some players in free agency get some pretty big numbers.”

Knowing what they were getting without entering a bidding war — and without letting other teams set a potentially artificial market value on Curry was certainly another reason the Warriors were so interested in making the extension happen.

“Our group thought about, what are the alternatives to not doing this,” Myers said.  “Well, there’s a couple. He could become a restricted free agent, and get offered a contract of similar or higher value. He could become a restricted free agent, and we’d choose to go in another direction. We’d have to replace the position, and that’s a hard thing to do with what amount of money we would have had.

“If you look at it on a global level, our options, it wasn’t like if we didn’t do this we’d have the max space to go out and get another guy. We’re thrilled we got the deal done, because we really like him. We really believe in him, and what this does is give us cost certainty in a league that is very uncertain.”

Myers continued down the path of certainty versus uncertainty, making it clear that whatever risks were involved in the investment in Curry, he was more comfortable there than he was with having to deal with the restricted free agent process.”

“The thing to understand about restricted free agency is, when a player enters restricted free agency and receives an offer sheet — and we’ll never know, thankfully, whether [Curry] would have or wouldn’t have — but when a team makes an offer, they have to pay a premium,” Myers said. “They pay beyond market value, and the reason being is, they have to set a bar they think that the team with the right to match won’t commit to. So even if you value a player at 12 (million), you’re not going to offer 12 — you’re going to offer 13 or 14. And you saw that in restricted free agency. So to protect against that, to commit to a player we really like for this organization, we made the deal we did and we’re happy with it.”

Warriors head coach Mark Jackson seemed just as happy about the team’s decision.

“I’m very excited about it, thrilled really,” Jackson said. “You have to at some point bet on somebody and I think it was a great decision by this organization betting on a guy with high character who comes from a good background and wants to be great. He does everything the right way; those are the guys that you want to ultimately bet on. It’s great for me because it’s especially enjoyable watching the good guys win.”

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.