THOMPSON: Stephen Curry just wants to play for Steve Kerr — and now it's all aligned

SAN FRANCISCO – Stephen Curry has yet to talk to his coach about his reported contract extension. He was just taking off his uniform after the Golden State Warriors and visiting Charlotte Hornets came down the stairs together on Friday night, landing the Warriors on top, 97-84. When asked about his thoughts on Steve Kerr's new two-year, $35 million deal, Curry had the same thought as everyone else.

“This is the same as my contract (years),” Curry said, smiling as he got into his shower skates. “I just realized it.”

$17.5 million was not the number that appeared in Kerr's new deal, even though it nearly doubles his assumed current salary and makes him the highest-paid coach in the league based on average salary. The important number was “2”. As in two years. Because it refers to the number 30.

NBA coaches, who are set to be fired, don't accept short deals. First, they usually need time to build the software. But also the only advantage to their inevitable ouster is that they still get paid. But Kerr's extension expires the same year Curry's current four-year, $215.3 million contract expires — after the 2025-26 season.

“If I were him, I would do the same thing,” Kevon Looney said. “Maybe he got that from (Greg) Popovich.”

This was good news for Curry, the face of the Warriors, who won't have to worry about hiring another coach. Because he definitely doesn't want another.

“Hell no,” Curry said.

A lot of coach talk focuses on rotation and strategy. These are the visual components of the job. But the unseen parts tend to matter at least as much, and often much more. Nothing that happens between the lines matters if the team's foundation is poor. Coaching players of this caliber, especially in the age of social media, comes with the added difficulty of managing basketball players who are also moguls, brands, and celebrities with complicated lives. Over the past decade, Warriors have seen the invisible impact visible. In both good and bad ways.

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No one expected the Warriors to give up Kerr, who entered the final year of his contract this season. But the possibility looms large, especially given the team's previous struggles this season. But the Warriors built on the Curry era by trading future key pieces in James Wiseman and Jordan Ball, by re-signing Draymond Green, by acquiring Chris Paul, and by recruiting game-ready rookies. Klay Thompson could get a new deal this season to stay with Golden State.

The Warriors are committed to chasing a championship while Curry remains dominant. And they want to do it together. Led by Kerr.

This is what they want. That's why they're still here. They want to be with the Warriors until it's time to tie their laces together and throw their boots over the telephone wire. Until that day, they want Kerr to be their coach.

The Warriors' front office hasn't always felt confident in Kerr. His interactions with young players have frustrated a few people above him. Maybe that's why the Warriors can tie him to Curry's contract. Because if Curry quits, the Warriors might prefer to start a new era with a new coach.

Or maybe Kerr's contract is only for two years because he wants his future tied to the legend that helped him get here.

“There are few stories of players, coaches and head coaches in league history that can compare to ours,” Curry said. “And that's not a coincidence. … He's been a constant presence. Not just the And not only management here, but management as well, is hard. It just reminds you of the special character and character you have to have to do this job.

Stephen Curry was skeptical when the Warriors fired Mark Jackson and hired Steve Kerr. Ten years later, would he want anyone else to coach him? “No, no,” he said Friday. (Ross Cameron/USA Today)

The irony in all of this is that the journey between Kerr and the Warriors' trio of stars began with reservations. When Kerr was appointed, in 2014, Curry was still reeling from the firing of Mark Jackson, who had lobbied to keep his job. When the Warriors finally got into shape, when Curry felt like he had survived the turmoil of his first few years, the Warriors hit the reset button. On top of that, they hired another former player turned broadcaster who had never coached before.

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Curry said at the time that he would keep an open mind about the new hire. What happened next took him from NBA All-Star to Hall of Famer. Kerr's offensive style amplified Curry's skill set even further. Curry said one of the reasons for its success was the way Kerr handled the delicate transition.

He did not come to establish his kingdom. He did little things to honor what they had already built. He kept their team motto (“Only Us”) on the walls. He publicly and regularly praised Jackson, consistently agreeing with the idea that he had inherited greatness.

“Obviously people talk about him getting a blessed list, which he did,” Curry said. “That doesn't necessarily guarantee that the fit will work. And he's never, even from day one, been the one to say it's the reason or the key. … He never had the aura that it was just him. That was the key.

This is their tenth year together now. Their chemistry together becomes increasingly important as their talent and health slowly sift through their clenched fists like sand. Under contract, they now have this year plus two more to climb the mountain again.

For Curry and his Championship peers, these final years of their prime are more about trust and cooperation than most people understand. In a league that is increasingly younger, and one that is set to push them out, it stands to reason that the bonds built will be more important. It makes sense that they would trust Kerr to manage what remains of their best.

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This is Kerr's true experience – the sincere belief that he is in partnership with his stars. Their relationship is built on reciprocity. This matters most at the back end of storied careers.

As it stands now, barring unforeseen circumstances, 2026 is the next likely expiration date for the era. That's three seasons to build towards episode five. Their proverbial last dance contains three songs. This team may not look the same when that checkpoint comes. The hierarchy will likely be changed. But at least they're willing to get through this together.


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(Top photo of Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr from November game against the Sacramento Kings: Rocky Widener/NBA via Getty Images)

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