Stephen Curry has vocalized recently that money is not his motivation for playing basketball. He enjoys every second of the NBA (mostly). However, it is not impossible that Curry might consider leaving the Golden State Warriors at the end of the 2016 NBA regular season. Why?
Curry will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year. He is at the end of his contract with the Warriors, that pays him just over $12 million this season and there is one team in particular that I could see him signing with (more of that later). Curry originally signed a four-year $44 million deal with Golden State. He is highly underpaid considering who he is and the contributions he has made for his team. I don't see why Curry would feel indebted to necessarily stay in the Bay Area. With Kevin Durant now leading the team, Curry is a major part of the offense, but not absolutely essential to the success of the team. This means I can see him wanting to once more be the absolute centerpiece of another team. A team where he has no competition as to WHO the leader is. This should be interesting.
15 Boston Celtics
The Celtics currently have $53 million in cap space available. They have nine guaranteed contracts, two partial or non-guaranteed contracts, and four potential free agents. What makes this option interesting is the big market Curry could be in. The Bay Area is a booming tech city, but Boston? I think it is safe to say that Boston is a more intense sports market than the Bay Area. Boston has the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and of course the Celtics. T
he Celtics owners shouldn't resist going after the star to pair him with some young talent. With Thomas, Curry, Jae Crowder, Al Horford, and future potential star Jaylen Brown - this team will be something to watch. Brad Stevens is a player's coach and would cater to Steph in many ways. Boston isn't the best option for Curry, but it certainly is an appealing one.
14 Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks have a solid dynamic going on right now. Add Curry, and their organization would obviously be upgraded significantly. Firstly, the Hawks have a pair of good big men in Millsap and Dwight Howard. What would benefit these guys, more than Shroder already does, would be Stephen. The Hawks have $34 million in cap space and nine potential free agents.
I could see this team getting a lot of space in the offseason and looking for the big signing. The Hawks aren't a championship team right now, but are a playoff contending threat in the East. Mike Budenholzer is a smart guy who with the right players, could continue to succeed. He has already brought in good talent into the state of Georgia, and his resume would be even better with the arguably best point guard in the NBA at the head of his roster.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves don't have the much cap space, but enough to potentially make some sort of move for Stephen Curry. With nearly $29 million in cap space, the Wolves will have four impending free agents. Though the Wolves have college basketball sensation Kris Dunn, Stephen Curry would mentor this guy substantially better than Ricky Rubio could right now. With Curry at the head of this young and promising team, including Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns, I envision a championship team.
The Wolves are stockpiling draft picks at this point, and if Curry went to them at the end of this season, they will once more add another talented prospect on their squad. Minnesota isn't the most appealing place to live, but because of the already talented young roster here, Curry owes it to himself to give this team a look.
12 Miami Heat
What Miami basketball needs since LeBron left to go to Ohio is simple; a superstar. Stephen Curry would bring this city and its moving parts back into contention. The team's focus is to simply rebuild in the coming years, to eventually make a run for a championship. The Heat could most likely afford Stephen Curry because they have nearly $37 million in cap space, four impending free agents, and two non-guaranteed contracts.
Pat Riley has the capability to go after Curry in the offseason. Stephen would fit in nicely in this fast paced and young offense. Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh could certainly use some help over in South Beach. Notably, Curry would be playing in beautiful weather throughout the year. The Eastern Conference also provides an easier path to the NBA Finals.
11 Orlando Magic
The Magic, who are stuck in mediocrity, are in need of a superstar point guard. Serge Ibaka remains a solid threat in the post, Aaron Gordon certainly has more potential under his belt and Vucevic is blossoming into a good center, but Elfrid Payton remains a little bit above average. I will admit Payton has come a long way, but Curry is obviously the superior point guard, in many ways. Orlando has around $26 million in cap space and four possible free agents.
In other words, they have the tools that they need to go after Curry, and should utilize them. What they need to do is try a little harder than other teams because of their appeal. Orlando is an awesome place to live, but the city isn't totally the most appealing place to play basketball right now. Regardless, I feel it is necessary to include Orlando because they could be a good fit for Curry.
10 Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have nearly $32 million in cap space and four possible free agents. Michael Malone runs a tight ship in Denver. They are currently struggling at under .500 and sit outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Denver isn't going to be a struggling team for long, but the aid of arguably the game's best point guard would speed up their process. They are sort of in rebuilding phase, but not totally.
They have centerpieces on their roster in Jokic, Murray, and Danilo, but can't seem to scratch the surface of mediocrity. Anyway, Curry would potentially fit into the Nuggets roster for a couple reasons. They have a dynamic offense that can be rather speedy at times. Curry fits this description as a point guard, impulsively making moves on the court.
9 San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs don't have a ton of cap space. They currently have only $15 million, but have seven impending free agents. The Spurs might not be able to overpay Curry, but they can get him there other ways. This city is very appealing to play in, especially today. Led by the great Gregg Popovich, the Spurs are always attracting new talent and are constantly a championship contending team too.
With Tony Parker in steady decline, a point guard revamp would be sensational for this good linup. Kawhi Leonard is in his prime, and LaMarcus Aldridge seems to have several great years ahead of him. Though the older guys may not have much more time here, I am confident coach Gregg Poppovich will figure something out. Could Curry be the answer to the aging-problem in Texas?
8 Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have some cap hefty cap space available with $38 million. They also have four impending free agents. Detroit isn't a great place to live, so I can't qualify that as a reason for Curry to move there, but the team has a lot of potential. I'm a big fan of Andre Drummond, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, and Tobias Harris. What I like about this team is their height and ability to get the ball down low. Reggie Jackson has been stellar this season, but moving him to shooting guard wouldn't be horrible, if not to sixth man.
Steph Curry would be sensational with some of the league's premier players in Detroit. That's a lot of size to put around a slender Steph Curry. As we saw in last year's NBA Finals, Curry was neutralized due to Cleveland's size, but with the Pistons, he wouldn't have to worry about that. Bad Boys Version 2?
7 New York Knicks
The Big Apple is a huge sports market. The Knicks seem to always be in the running for each and every free agent regardless of their success in the regular season. The Knicks have $30 million in cap space and eight potential free agents. This team needs a rebound; literally, they have difficulty grabbing them. In all seriousness, New York could be fantastic to Curry's career. Though he might have to put up with Carmelo's selfish attitude, Anthony isn't a lock to stay in New York. A Melo departure via trade would only increase the probability of Curry going to New York.
Curry would mesh well with Porzingis, Noah, Rose, and maybe Jennings. It would be ideal for the Knicks to move Rose to shooting guard, and stick Curry up at point guard (obviously). The Knicks (I'm sure) will be in the conversation this offseason because they always are.
6 Philadelphia 76ers
This team is not the one to sleep on, especially come five years from now. Joel Embiid is seriously showing potential as a big man. The Sixers have more potential than any team in the NBA. When Ben Simmons gets back from injury, some serious transformation might be in store for the 76ers. Philly needs a point guard, and even though they considered the idea of starting Simmons at the position, Curry would be a better fit.
A couple years ago Philadelphia would be last on my list for places Curry could go, but now they have cemented themselves as a breeding ground for potential success. Not to mention that Philadelphia also has $61 million in cap space, the second most in the NBA. 76ers fans have been told to "trust the process", and maybe this is becoming true. With Curry dishing the ball to Simmons and Embiid in the paint, this team would be a force for years.
5 Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are a good team. I am confident in saying that Jeff Teague has been living up to his contract. This being said, Curry in a Pacers uniform would be deadly for the Eastern Conference. Combined with veteran Paul George, I would love to see what these two superstars can do together. The Pacers have $30 million in cap space and two non-guaranteed free agents. Monta Ellis could slide to the shooting guard position if Curry came into town. Indiana isn't the most awesome place to play basketball in the NBA, but hey, Hoosiers is arguably the best sports movie of all time. Plus, Mark Titus is from here.
The Pacers would seriously be a threat to a lot of different teams in the NBA if they went after Stephen. Not only do they already have a solid core, but they would attract more talent if they got Curry.
4 Houston Rockets
Though James Harden is one of the best guards in basketball, he could move to shooting guard to make room for Curry. Stephen Curry and James Harden on the same team would be a dynamic duo for the ages. I'm not sure the two guys necessarily like each other right now, but they will once they are tearing up the Western Conference. In fact, Houston has $41 million in cap space and five potential free agents. Not only would Stephen pair well with Harden, but Eric Gordon would arguably make for the best sixth man in all of basketball.
Patrick Beverly is doing well, but I'm content with the Rockets kicking him aside if Chef Curry comes to Houston. Not only is this a good fit, but they have plenty of money to spend this offseason.
3 Los Angeles Lakers
With possibly the biggest market in all of basketball, the Lakers are always a major contender for every free agent. They currently have the most cap space in the NBA at $62 million. Additionally, L.A. has nine potential free agents. This would be major switch for Curry, even though the team is within the state he currently resides in. The Bay Area and L.A. have completely different climates both literally and figuratively.
Curry would pair nicely with Joseph Randle, D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers do have some guards, but could push the average guys aside. Clarkson isn't essential to this team, and could easily be a backup. The Lakers are in a rebuilding phase, and Stephen would be a move in the right direction, obviously.
2 Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte holds to be a special place in the heart of the Curry's. In fact, the Hornets have a lot of cap space too. This is basically the ideal scenario for Steph. Not only do the Hornets have nearly $40 million in cap space, but they have eight possible free agents. According to CBS Sports, Stephen Curry "won't rule out signing with his hometown". Additionally, Curry has been quoted saying "Charlotte is on the radar".
Charlotte is also the place Stephen's dad spent the glory days of his career. Dell is the Hornets' leading scorer and could influence Curry to go home. Maybe even a family reunion will take place in North Carolina, including Seth Curry too. He should seriously consider the idea of going home, and I think he already has. This won't possibly unfold until this offseason though, so NBA fans will be forced in misery to wait for his big decision.
1 Golden State Warriors
At the end of the day, the most likely scenario is Steph Curry deciding to remain with the Golden State Warriors. While he's not always the centerpiece on the team with KD in town, Curry played a big part in bringing Durant to Golden State, in hopes that the two would bring multiple championships.
Curry's priority isn't money, even though he's entitled to ask for a max contract this offseason after being underpaid throughout his NBA career. It's hard to see Curry walking away when he still has so much left to do in Golden State. Perhaps the way the Warriors' season ends this year will influence his decision, but at the moment, the smart money is still on the Warriors re-signing him this summer.