The Golden State Warriors took Stephen Curry with the seventh pick of the 2009 draft. The New York Knicks had the next pick, and chose Jordan Hill. But as a new story by the New York Times’ Harvey Araton details, the Knicks and Curry were both set on each other beforehand.
For Walsh, the most painful part of the episode is that leading into the draft, Curry wanted no part of the Warriors and, assuming he was not going to be drafted higher, pointed to the Knicks as his preferred landing site. Curry refused to so much as visit or work out for the Warriors.
In a telephone interview, Curry’s father, Dell, who played 16 N.B.A. seasons as a sweet-shooting guard, said: “The Warriors had some questionable characters on their team, the Knicks really needed a point guard, and we felt that Stephen would fit perfectly with a coach like Mike D’Antoni, playing that fast, up-and-down style. He loved the idea of playing at Madison Square Garden.”
It’s an interesting what-if, because the NBA landscape would be dramatically different if Curry had fallen to the Knicks. Would they have been forced to include him in the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011, or in a trade to clear cap space to make a run at LeBron James in 2010? Curry would have been a terrific fit in D’Antoni’s system, but could he have played with Anthony, assuming the Knicks still traded for him?
The Warriors also reportedly had a deal lined up for Amar’e Stoudemire before the draft, in which their No. 7 pick would have been sent to Phoenix along with other pieces. But the Warriors pulled out of that trade when Curry unexpectedly fell to them.
The Warriors’ drafting of Curry seemed strange at the time since they also had Monta Ellis, but Golden State adhered to the philosophy of drafting the most talented player on the board regardless of fit, and it has obviously worked out extremely well for them. Curry is an MVP candidate this season and the Warriors have the best record in the league.
For everyone except the Knicks, it’s probably for the best that things worked out the way they did.