SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Golden State Warriors prepare for Stephen Curry's return to the floor next month, they do so emboldened by the fact that they never considered shutting him down for the season after he broke his left hand on Oct. 30.
As some critics and fans wonder whether allowing Curry to come back is in the best interest of the organization this season, Warriors players and coaches are embracing that the former MVP is nearing a return after missing four months of action.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he doesn't see the argument from some that Curry shouldn't return this season.
"He's perfectly healthy," Kerr said Wednesday. "He's in the prime of his career. If the point is because he might get hurt, then what's the point of ever playing anything? People can get hurt any day. I guess the argument would be, 'Well, we're not going to the playoffs.' So are we not trying to entertain our fans? We're selling tickets to all these people who love basketball, and Steph Curry is one of the most amazing, graceful, exciting basketball players on earth. And if he were healthy and we didn't present him to our fans and say, 'Here you go. Here's your gift for staying with us for this whole season,' what would that say about us? That we don't care about our fans?
"So to me it's never been a question. As soon as he's ready, he's coming back. Our fans deserve it. We need it as a team to springboard into next year, and it's the right thing to do."
Warriors forward Draymond Green echoed Kerr's sentiment, saying he understands why Curry wants to return.
"If he didn't come back, everybody would say, 'That's bulls---,' he's making $40 million,'" Green said after Wednesday's practice. "It's never enough. And it will never be right. Anthony Davis shut it down a few years ago [in New Orleans], he was healthy and everybody was like, 'He's wrong. What is he doing?' Then you get a guy come back, and [it's like], 'Why is he coming back? They're not making the playoffs.' Clearly, a superstar just did it a year or two ago, and everybody had a problem with it, so it will never be the right thing, it will never be enough.
"As a competitor, you never just want to work out, you want to play. And so I understand him coming back. Who wouldn't want to come back? You play basketball for a living, and you love what you do. Most importantly, your days are numbered. All of our days are numbered in this league. I understand why he wants to be out there."
Kerr reiterated that he felt it was key for Curry, 31, to play with several younger teammates, including new addition Andrew Wiggins, in advance of next season. Curry has been working out more with the Warriors over the past month, but he still hasn't been cleared for contact. Kerr said Curry hasn't been pushing the Warriors to come back and play because both the team and the player have been on the same page since the injury -- he will be back whenever he's ready.
"It's never even been a conversation," Kerr said. "Steph doesn't have to talk us into anything. We know he wants to play because he loves basketball, and we want him to play because we need him for the continuity to build that momentum for next year and then our fans are dying to see him.
"He's playing. He's almost healthy, he's almost ready, so he's playing. No discussion. He doesn't need to convince me of anything. This is a totally different deal than Klay [Thompson]. Steph had surgery on his [hand], it's basically healed. He's right on the cusp [of returning]. Klay had an ACL [injury]. It's a totally different conversation. I think there's a big distinction there."
Kerr, who noted last month that he asked both Curry and Thompson to start being around the team more as they rehab, acknowledged that he and the Warriors players have enjoyed watching Curry ramp up his workouts over the past few weeks.
"To me, it's been one of the things that's been missing from our practices this year, the individual workouts of Steph, Klay and Kevin [Durant]," Kerr said. "The last few years post-practice, it's like a clinic. It's a clinic for younger players -- how you have to conduct yourself as an NBA player. The work that you put in once practice is over is really the bar for how good you want to become and how serious you're taking this. And Steph, I've never seen anybody work harder than Steph in his post-practice workouts. And so now we're seeing that, all the younger guys are looking over there and they're seeing him. And they're seeing what he goes through, what he does, and it's beautiful to watch. So I think our team is getting a bounce from that, a bounce of energy and a reminder that better days are ahead."
Green noted that he believes Curry's reemergence in the Warriors lineup is a good thing for the entire league, not just Bay Area fans who are excited to see him again.
"Obviously we're all excited seeing him ramp it up, being in more drills and practicing," Green said. "He's been putting a ton of work in here by himself, while still doing the stuff with us in practice, so it's obviously exciting just to see him back out there on the floor. The game definitely missed Steph and Klay, that's for sure. The game of basketball missed those two guys. And Kevin [Durant] as well. We got three guys out this year who have been anchors in this league the last 10-plus years. The game missed those guys.
"But obviously with Steph coming back, it's exciting. I'm looking forward to playing with him again. I'm more excited for these young guys to get a chance to play with him as well, because the game will change. And so it will be good for them to get that little bit of experience with him going into next year, because the game will be completely different."