NBA

Stephen Curry’s sideline outburst toward Warriors teammates stresses urgency to get him help at trade deadline

Everyone’s had that teacher, coach, parent or other formative figure who’s a screamer. If you do something wrong, you’re going to get yelled at until their voice is hoarse. The problem with screamers is that, eventually, you become numb to it. If you draw equal ire for forgetting your pencil as you do for not turning in homework, you lose your ability to discern the severity of your transgression.

As a leader, it can be much more effective to take a more measured approach. When a normally subdued, quiet coach suddenly loses their temper, you know you truly did something to deserve it. That’s exactly what we saw from Stephen Curry during the Golden State Warriors‘ embarrassing 130-104 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on national TV on Thursday.

With his team trailing by more than 20 points early in the third quarter, Curry screamed at his teammates, imploring them to play with more passion and energy to turn things around. It was quite jarring considering Curry’s normally low-key nature.

TNT commentator and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller noted that it was the most animated he’d ever seen Curry during a game, and even Curry’s sister, Sydell, remarked about the long-lasting effects of her brother’s rare outbursts.

Curry was clearly frustrated with the way his team was playing, but you have to wonder whether this was the boiling point during an inconsistent season in which the Warriors are barely clinging to their playoff lives. Thursday’s loss was the fourth straight for the Warriors, who now sit in 10th place in the Western Conference at 19-19, and The Athletic’s Anthony Slater asked Curry whether his sideline behavior was a result of this particular game, or indicative of a larger issue. Ever the diplomat, Curry gave the expected answer.

“It’s always about what’s happening in the moment. That’s just basketball — trying to bring competitive spirit and leadership in all different type of ways,” Curry said of his outburst. “We had an opportunity to set the tone for the second half of the season tonight, and obviously didn’t do it. I think we’ve got to do something about that going into next game.”

The timing is particularly curious with the March 25 trade deadline just two weeks away. The Warriors have hovered around .500 all season, and have suffered some horrific losses to good teams along the way. The defense, which coach Steve Kerr prioritized from the first day of camp, is ranked sixth in the NBA, but their offense has fallen off a cliff when Curry isn’t on the floor. The Warriors’ 112.5 offensive rating with Curry would be pushing the top 10 in the league in terms of efficiency. But when Curry sits, Golden State’s offense plummets to a paltry 98.4 points per 100 possessions.

So it makes sense that the Warriors, according to president of basketball operations Bob Myers, will be “aggressive” heading into the trade deadline. They have a tricky balance to strike, however, knowing that — short of acquiring a superstar like Bradley Beal — any deal they make between now and March 25 likely will not make them a title contender this season. Everything they do must have an eye toward next season when Klay Thompson is expected to make his return from two consecutive seasons missed to injury.

The Warriors can present one of the best trade packages in the NBA centered around No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman and Minnesota’s top-three protected 2021 first-round pick that becomes unprotected in 2022, but they would only give up those assets for a superstar-level game-changer.

“I don’t think we want to think too short-term, and give up something in the future to make a little bit better push now,” Myers said on NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Dubs Talk” podcast. “As hard as that is to stay disciplined, I think we would hope that anything we decide to do had legs beyond this year, or had advantages beyond the rest of this season. … We want to win every game, we want to be good right now. And those are the hardest things to do is if something came up and it’s like, well this helps us now, but not later. You just really have to say, you know, that’s not the right thing for us.”

So that leaves the Warriors with little wiggle room in terms of assets they’re willing to deal who would be attractive to other teams. Kelly Oubre Jr., who has played much better after a dreadful start to the season, is perhaps the team’s most moveable player. If the Warriors don’t want to pay the salary that Oubre will likely command as a free agent this offseason, they would be wise to try to get something for him before the deadline. Oubre’s expiring $14.4 million salary could fetch a helpful rotation piece in return, but whichever team trades for Oubre would likely want some assurance that he’ll re-sign with them this offseason, which could make things difficult.

Despite a strong season with the Warriors so far, Andrew Wiggins‘ contract is likely still viewed as a negative asset by most of the league. Outside of him and Oubre, you’re looking at young players like Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Nico Mannion, Damion Lee and Kevon Looney, who likely wouldn’t be enough to get the difference-maker the Warriors are looking for. So even if Golden State wants to make a move, it could have trouble finding teams to oblige.

But the front office would be wise to take notice of Curry’s heated exchange with teammates on Thursday. He’s not the type that would spin an incident like this into a trade demand, but you know if Steph Curry is letting loose with that kind of emotion, something needs to change.

“Nobody likes the feeling of getting smacked — in a game like tonight. We’ve had some really good moments as well. … We’ve done a pretty good job of adjusting, we just haven’t found any consistency, and that is a frustrating thing for sure. We’re gonna have to find that if we’re gonna be a threat in the playoffs, and that’s on us to figure out.”



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