You may have noticed that Steph Curry did not suit up last night when the Golden State Warriors hosted the Washington Wizards. Curry had openly targeted March 1 as his hopeful return date, though the Warriors never committed to it.
There was a report from Shams Charania that Curry would return on Sunday, but local beat reporters - as well as coach Steve Kerr - quickly refuted it. And so the date came and went, with a lackluster defeat and no Steph Curry.
Today, however, the two-time MVP is taking a notable step towards a return, and it requires a fun jaunt down Highway 17. Yes, Curry is heading to the G League, so he can go through a full practice with the Santa Cruz Warriors.
The Warriors have assigned guard Stephen Curry and forward Alen Smailagić to the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz. Curry, who has been out since suffering a broken left hand on October 30, will practice with the team in Santa Cruz today. pic.twitter.com/rZjOAHb4iW— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) March 2, 2020
G League scrimmages have become commonplace for Golden State when players are rehabbing injuries. You may recall DeMarcus Cousins spending a fair amount of time in Santa Cruz last season.
The reasoning is quite simple: It’s conditioning that you can’t get at an NBA practice. Between the wear and tear of the 82-game season, plus all of the traveling, you simply don’t have strenuous practices at the NBA level.
Golden State, for instance, didn’t finish their game last night until after 8:00 p.m. They play again tomorrow night in Denver. One off day, in which they need to travel? Yeah, you’re not going to get a very intense practice (or any practice at all, for that matter).
But in Santa Cruz? In Santa Cruz they can practice hard, run a full scrimmage, and put Curry through the ringer to get his endurance and durability up. According to Kerr, that’s the whole point: not throwing the face of the franchise into the fire without some preparation. After Sunday’s game, Kerr even went so far as to say that he wants Curry to get a little banged up.
Steve Kerr on what he would like for Steph Curry to accomplish in Santa Cruz tomorrow. Says he wants him to get banged up like he would in a game. pic.twitter.com/lrszws2EGy— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) March 2, 2020
Not surprisingly, the Warriors health and training staff is keeping a close eye on Curry by the beach.
Warriors director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini is here in Santa Cruz. He's been working closely with Steph through this process.— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) March 2, 2020
With Curry now in Santa Cruz, the most likely date for his return would seem to be this coming Thursday, when the Warriors host the Toronto Raptors on national TV. That’s not quite as forgiving of a game as playing the worst defense in the league, as Golden State did last night, but oh well.
Thursday marks the start of a four-game homestand for the Warriors, in which they host the Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Brooklyn Nets. If Curry doesn’t return vs. the defending champs, it’s highly likely we’ll see him back against one of those other teams.
UPDATE: Chef Curry seems to be enjoying himself.
Steph posing with Santa Cruz. pic.twitter.com/1cjE6DSQ2F— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) March 2, 2020