With the news today from Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com that Stephen Curry, as well as Andrew Bogut, will undergo additional ankle surgery, Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group examines the options that Curry and the Warriors have as they look past his current contract, which expires after next season. One possibility is an injury-exclusion clause, which would allow Curry to sign a high-dollar contract but give the team an out if he's not healthy enough to perform.
Curry will be eligible for restricted free agency in the summer of 2013 unless he and the team come to terms on an extension before October 31st this year. Kawakami estimates his value, when healthy, to be close to that of former teammate Monta Ellis, currently in the middle of a six-year deal that pays $11MM annually. If he doesn't sign an extension and plays well next season, he could be looking at as much as $14MM a year, Kawakami says.
Curry has said before that he'd like to work out an extension with the team, but the Warriors would certainly be reluctant to pay a premium for a player whose health is a question mark. An injury-exclusion clause would allow Curry to sign a long-term deal with money that's in line with his career averages of 17.5 PPG, 5.8 APG and 4.1 RPG, while letting the team reduce the amount of money, remove years, or void the contract entirely if Curry suffers another ankle injury. Just how much of the contract the clause covers would be a matter of negotiation, Kawakami writes.
In a league where guaranteed contracts are the norm, recently retired T.J. Ford is the only player known to have had such a clause in his deal, Kawakami says, and his clause was never exercised. It's certainly an idea that would appeal to the Warriors, and if Curry is truly interested in signing an extension, he'll have to consider it. The harsher luxury tax rules coming in 2014 will make teams think twice about committing major money to a player who might not be able to perform. Still, I think it behooves Curry to come back next season and prove he's healthy and worthy of a fully guaranteed deal. He'll have an easier time finding the deal he wants when he can sign with any of the league's 30 teams as a restricted free agent, even though the Warriors will have the right to match.