Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry says contract talks may have affected his opening night performance

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The Warriors earned a hard-fought victory over the Suns on Wednesday, in a game where they blew all of a 17-point first-half lead and had to come from eight points down in the final period to get out with that win.

A big part of the Warriors’ trouble was the fact that the team’s biggest stars in Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, and David Lee didn’t contribute in a positive way offensively to the team’s effort. Curry and Lee combined to make just 4-of-30 field goal attempts, and Bogut, playing his first game since suffering an ankle injury nine months ago, performed well but was limited to just 18 minutes by the team’s medical staff.

It’s unclear why Lee was so off on this night (and we’ll leave it to Warriors fans to further disparage his particular performance), but Curry may have had a legitimate reason.

The contract extension talks — which resulted in a generous $44 million dollar extension over the next four years — had been weighing on Curry significantly, and after the game he said that the “crazy day” he endured may have indeed been part of the reason for his 2-of-14 night from the field.

“I think it was just one of those games, but it was just a crazy day,” he said, while trying to make sense of it all. “It was still a little nerve-wracking the last 48 hours seeing if we could get something done, and obviously we didn’t have any games so it’s pretty much all I was thinking about. And then this morning, realizing that it was finally done, and then media obligations and family texting me every five seconds … it was definitely a blessing. But thankfully we were able to get a win and finish off the day nicely.”

The win almost didn’t come, with the Warriors leaving the door open time and again for the Suns to take it instead, especially down the stretch. Curry had a chance to seal the game with his team up two and just 4.4 seconds remaining, but the career 90 percent free throw shooter missed two straight from the line to give the Suns one final chance.

“That was about the sign of how my night went,” he said. “Thankfully there was not enough time for them to get a shot off and I was able to walk off with a win.”

Now that the contract extension is firmly in place, it’s likely Curry returns to form the next time he takes the court. If he takes the advice that head coach Mark Jackson had for him, he should be able to put this one bad game behind him and immediately find his way back.

“I told him he already earned his money,” Jackson said. “He doesn’t have to go out there and try to earn it all again in one night.”

PBT Podcast: Derek Fisher fired, plus your trade questions from Twitter

Derek Fisher
Associated Press
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Derek Fisher is out as coach of the New York Knicks.

In this latest podcast, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss the odd timing of that move — we expect another shoe to drop as to why. It’s not that Fisher was a great coach, but replacing him with Kurt Rambis mid-season is not an upgrade. And Luke Walton isn’t available until this summer.

After struggling to figure out what the Knicks are thinking, Helin and Feldman answer questions off Twitter from readers/listeners on the coming trade deadline including discussions of Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, the Pistons, the Jazz, the Knicks, and more.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Warriors’ center Festus Ezeli to have knee surgery, out indefinitely

Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli, left, of Nigeria, looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Denver. Golden State won 118-105. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Associated Press
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Festus Ezeli has been a rock-solid backup for the Warriors this season, playing almost 18 minutes a night behind Andrew Bogut giving the team 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. Golden State’s defense is 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.

But he’s going to be out for a while now following knee surgery, the team announced and as reported by Monte Poole at CSNBayArea.com.

http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/festus-ezeli-undergo-knee-surgery

The surgery is exploratory, which is why the Warriors say there is no timeline for recovery yet.

The surgery is on his left knee; it was his right one that had reconstructive surgery and forced him to miss all of two seasons ago.

This is a blow to the Warriors’ depth, but little has slowed their march this season. More Mo Speights is not ideal, but the Warriors can just go small more often and run teams out of the building that way.

Ezeli is a restricted free agent this summer and the Warriors would like to keep him on the roster and expand his role, particularly if they do not retain Andrew Bogut. The severity of this knee injury could impact Ezeli’s ability to earn a big contract this summer, but hopefully for him, it’s not that serious.

Russell Westbrook stands behind Kevin Durant, mimics him during interview (video)

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Choose your spin.

This is why Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder. Russell Westbrook doesn’t respect him.

or

This is why Kevin Durant is re-signing with the Thunder. He and Russell Westbrook have so much fun together.

Report: Magic open to talking Tobias Harris trade, looking to add experience

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) grabs the uniform of Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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Tobias Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Magic just last summer.

Now, just 50 games later…

Marc Stein of ESPN:

I’m skeptical this is significant. Teams discuss trades for many players for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean the player is likely to be dealt.

Orlando in particular has a roster of players who cause significant debate about their value. It’s helpful to know what other teams think of Harris, and soliciting trade offers is a good method to learn his worth.

It’s more intriguing the Magic are looking to add experience. They should probably go the opposite route, but they’ve tried (and failed) for years to accelerate their rebuild. At 22-28 – four games and three teams from playoff position – now is not the time to seek shortcuts. Spend the rest of the season developing young players – and probably securing a higher draft pick in the process.

One of Harris’ best traits is his youth. He’s just 23. See what other teams would offer for him, sure. But, in all likelihood, it’s better to let him grow into the veteran Orlando needs rather than trading him for one when the rest of the team isn’t ready to win, anyway.

My guess is that’s what Orlando will do. Remember, always consider who has incentive to leak this information anonymously and what they’d be positioned to know.