Stephen Curry could head to the Charlotte Hornets next season. What does that mean for the Cleveland Cavaliers?
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December 25, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates in the third quarter of a NBA basketball game on Christmas against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 89-83. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Curry made headlines when he said that the Charlotte Hornets were on his radar for the upcoming free agency. It’s interesting that Curry is entertaining the questions as the Golden State Warriors seek to redeem themselves for surrendering a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals and losing to what should have been LeBron James’ outmatched Cleveland Cavaliers team. The Warriors, led by Kevin Durant, are 16-2 and Curry is on schedule for another 50/40/90 season. It’s not as if he’s not getting the ball either, as he’s scoring 26.6 points per game.
Perhaps playing off-the-ball so much is having an effect on how Curry sees his fit with the Golden State Warriors. Of course, Curry may never say it publicly but part of what made last season fun for him was all of the spotlight on him. Curry’s talents were on display as any player would likely and he was performing wonders with the ball in his hands so much.
What’s a wizard without his wand?
The Charlotte Hornets won’t be able to acquire Curry without trading Kemba Walker. Still, they’ll do whatever they have to if they can sign Curry in free agency. With Cleveland Cavaliers as the top dog in the East and their status as the cream of the conference crop not likely to change soon, the Hornets wouldn’t mind a big boost in the form of Curry.
For that reason, James and the Cleveland Cavaliers need to watch out for another big-fish free agent making a splash in free agency.
Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) celebratew with the Larry O
Who Is Top Dog In The East?
With Curry playing in the Eastern Conference, it will be a lot harder for the Cleveland Cavaliers to be certain they’ll go to the NBA Finals year after year.
To start, Curry is a superstar point guard that will be hard to defend by any point guard. Against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’ll either tire Kyrie Irving out on the defensive end, be matched up with J.R. Smith as the Cavs put Irving on their shooting guard, or force the Cavs to play small with Iman Shumpert guarding Curry. To sum it up, he won’t make things easy for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Ghrist ready to lock down the Cavs wings, the frontcourt has a good chance of matching up with whatever combination the Cavs put out. The game the Cavs had against the Charlotte Hornets was pretty close with Walker, it will be a lot closer with a hyper-charged version of Walker in Curry.
Feb 5, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) drives against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Free-For-All In The West
The Western Conference, without Stephen Curry in Golden State, will be a conference with more parity in the top-tier.
Between the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder there’s a lot of parity. Not to mention the division the Warriors are in have two of the best young teams in the NBA in the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans can also take a step forward next season.
As for who the Cavs would face in the NBA Finals, there’s an even better chance they’ll beat whatever team it is so long as they don’t have Curry.
Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan unveils the new Charlotte Hornets logo at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
James needs three more NBA Finals victories to tie Michael Jordan‘s six rings and the chances are much greater if there is a weakened Warriors squad.
While Curry being on a Jordan-owned team in the Eastern Conference presents James with an ultimate rivalry on-the-court, the media exposure off-the-court will be great. It’s easy to see Curry going to the Charlotte Hornets being marketed as a ‘coming home’ story to parallel James’ return to Cleveland. On and off the court, James would have to battle Curry’s burgeoning star.
It could be harder to match the mythical status of Jordan’s career if he doesn’t have to go through an All-Time great Warriors squad to win a championship series anymore. The daunting task that James seems to face when he plays the Warriors is part of what compensates for his four Finals losses. Three more victories over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals will make a 6-4 Finals record look like 10-1. Weird math, right? Just subtract what the general consensus considers to be excusable losses (’06, ’14, ’15) and give James two victories for every victory over Golden State. That’s the pass and praise that lays ahead for James should he beat the Warriors with Curry on the roster.
Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the first quarter in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
While the idea of Curry playing for anybody but the Golden State Warriors is hard to imagine, even for him, there is a chance he leaves.
The fact that there is a chance is substantial. In recent years, Durant and James said it would be hard to leave their franchises and both ended up signing with a different team in free agency. What’s more, player’s have recently shown an inclination to play for their hometown teams, like James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dwight Howard with the Atlanta Hawks, even Deron Williams with the Dallas Mavericks. Curry could be next player to play for their hometown in a trend that’s seen superstars return to glory in those situations. Curry’s infamous 2015-2016 campaign will go down as one of the best individual seasons in NBA history. Still, the national media’s attention is about anything but him and the “Splash Brothers” in Golden State now.
What would Curry signing in Charlotte mean for the Cavs? The same thing it would mean for 28 other teams. Parity across the NBA landscape.
Do you think Stephen Curry will sign with a team other than the Golden State Warriors in free agency? Do you think it will be the Charlotte Hornets and, if so, what does it mean for the Cleveland Cavaliers? Let us know in the comments section or Twitter @KJG_NBA.