OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors got they guy they wanted all along in Thursday's draft, selecting Davidson star guard Stephen Curry.
"We did have Steph on the board at seven probably a month or six weeks ago," Warriors general manager Larry Riley said. "Then he was rising. I was concerned at one point we might not get him. I thought he might go ahead of us. . . . He's a guy we targeted and we were hoping he would be there for us."
The only question now is how long will they keep him. Riley said he was operating as if Curry will be a Warrior this season. But the Warriors, according to multiple sources, are in talks for Phoenix Suns All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire. Several outlets reported the talks, which have the Warriors sending their pick, center Andris Biedrins, forward Brandan Wright, swingman Kelenna Azubuike and guard Marco Belinelli to Phoenix.
But according to sources, the only hold-ups are a contract extension for Stoudemire and, of course, Curry.
The trade could still work without Curry, who has no monetary value in a trade until he signs a contract. But according to the Arizona Republic, the trade was contingent upon Curry being available at No. 7. He was.
Riley, per team policy, declined to comment. But later in the evening, a team source confirmed the Warriors were trying to keep Curry. For his part, Curry said he wants to stay in Oakland.
"A lot people were blowing up New York and thought I was going to be disappointed if didn't go there," Curry said via conference call after being selected. "But that's not the case at all. I just spoke with Larry Riley and he didn't mention (me going to Phoenix). I don't know where I fit in. I hope I go to sleep a Warrior."
Then there is the contract extension. A team source said the Warriors are willing to pay, but it's uncertain if team president Robert Rowell would approve (or get owner Chris Cohan to approve) what Stoudemire would likely require.
Stoudemire is set to make $34 million over the next two seasons. But he has a player option for the 2010-11 season. Riley said he would have a tough time making a trade for a big-named player without locking him up long term.
Assuming Stoudemire garners the maximum, the Warriors would be able to sign him to a three-year, $61.3 million extension. That would put the Warriors on the hook for just over $95 million over five years. If the Warriors aren't willing to pay that much, or if Stoudemire doesn't agree to an extension, the deal likely won't happen.
In any case, any deal likely wouldn't be officially consummated until July 8 (after the new season begins and the annual one-week moratorium to start the fiscal year ends). Biedrins, at that point, will no longer be in the first year of his new contract and the trade limitations on his contract will have expired.
If the trade doesn't happen, the Warriors will still walk away with their guy. Curry, who was reportedly coveted by New York (and certainly by Knicks fans, who booed when the Warriors drafted Curry), said he never expected to fall past No. 7.
Riley and the Warriors staff have been watching Curry for a while. Curry said he learned Thursday night that Nelson had "pinpointed me as the best fit."
"Everything that we saw in this guy just showed us that he's a quality young man who's a good basketball player," Riley said, "a basketball player that fits into our system. We wanted to improve the passing on our basketball team. Steph is a great long passer, he's a great short passer. Most of you, of course, know he can shoot the ball with great accuracy. He's a guy who's going to fit in quite nicely with the style of play that we're involved in."
Riley confirmed that it came down to Curry and Arizona power forward Jordan Hill. Curry will back-up starting point guard Monta Ellis and get some time at shooting guard. Riley said he expects Curry to contribute this coming season, though maybe not until December or January.
"Golden State doesn't get a lot of exposure out here, but certainly Don Nelson has a reputation for being very creative and very crafty as a coach," said Davidson coach Bob McKillop, reached Thursday in the draft green room. I'm sure Coach Nelson will find a way to use all of his talents."
If they are ever at his disposal.