LAS VEGAS – Stephen Curry(notes) played 10 minutes with David Lee(notes), the Golden State Warriors' new $80 million acquisition, during a scrimmage on the first day of Team USA's minicamp. Curry liked what he saw, and then Lee, like so many Warriors, was gone nearly as fast as he had arrived – sent back to the Bay Area because of a finger injury that will sideline him through the world championships.
"It was the curse of the Warriors," Curry said. "I don't know what else it is. Every time someone joins our team, injuries seem to happen."
The Warriors missed 501 player games because of injuries last season, the second-most in NBA history since the league began tracking the total 23 years earlier. And they've already got a head start on next season: Rookie forward Ekpe Udoh(notes), taken sixth overall in the June draft, hurt his left wrist during a workout within a week of signing his contract with the Warriors. He underwent surgery and is expected to miss six months, sidelining him for much of the season's first half.
Injuries aren't the only reason the Warriors will look decidedly different next season. Curry watched one summer league game here while sitting in the stands next to guard Anthony Morrow(notes). A day later, Morrow agreed to a contract with the New Jersey Nets, becoming one of Curry's many former teammates. Anthony Randolph(notes), Ronny Turiaf(notes), Corey Maggette(notes) and Kelenna Azubuike(notes) also have been shipped out in trades during the offseason. The biggest change came a week ago when longtime Warriors owner Chris Cohan agreed to sell the team to venture capitalist Joe Lacob and entertainment executive Peter Guber for a record $450 million.
Curry also hoped to meet the team’s owners sometime this weekend in Las Vegas.
“I’m happy the process is over,” he said, “so we have some sort of direction.”
Just a year into his NBA career, Curry is no longer surprised by anything. He arrived in Golden State as a rookie to hear star guard Monta Ellis(notes) declare that the two wouldn't be able to share the backcourt. Disgruntled forward Stephen Jackson(notes) announced he wanted to be traded – and eventually got his wish. Coach Don Nelson came down with pneumonia, took a leave of absence and then set the NBA record for most career coaching victories late in the season.
Through it all, the injuries and losses continued to pile up. Players came and went. Now, with new ownership and a new roster, Curry can only hope the Warriors' fortunes will change for the better.
"It was a whirlwind," Curry said. "From coming here and not playing as well as I wanted to in summer league [last year] to some team turmoil, team drama coming on. … Now, I'm seeing my teammates go, and there are some guys I built some relationships with.
"I'm seeing the business side of basketball and now know what to expect from year to year. It's been pretty crazy."
Curry lived up to expectations in his first season, averaging 17.5 points, 5.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds and finishing second to Sacramento Kings point guard Tyreke Evans(notes) in the Rookie of the Year balloting. As talented as Ellis is, Curry is now widely viewed as the face of the franchise.
"He went even beyond what we envisioned in one year," Warriors general manager Larry Riley said.
While Curry has been disappointed to see some of his close friends leave, he wants to win and thinks the Warriors are now in a better position to do so. The main reason has been the acquisition of Lee, who averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds last season for the New York Knicks.
"He thought we could play together and jell, especially with Monta," Curry said. "It gives a two-headed point guard combo to go with David Lee. We're going to play pick-and-roll all day."
Curry had hoped to use Team USA's minicamp to not only earn a spot on the world championships roster, but also build some chemistry with Lee. He'll leave having fallen short of at least one of those goals after Lee's injury. The two players did get a chance to talk on the bench during one scrimmage.
"He seems like a great guy," Curry said. "I look forward to playing with him."
The Warriors also added forward Dorell Wright(notes) and undrafted rookie guard Jeremy Lin(notes) in free agency and traded for center Dan Gadzuric(notes) and guard Charlie Bell(notes). Forward Brandan Wright(notes) is expected to return after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury, and Udoh could help once he recovers.
"We had stretches of brilliance with a lot of injuries that impeded our chemistry and flow to the season," Curry said. "Hopefully now, we got a solid core and solid lineup that sticks together."