OAKLAND (CBS SF) – There is a dictionary full of adjectives and phrases that have been used to describe Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry.
But one that has not been utter often enough is bargain.
The NBA has entered its free agency period when the phrase million of dollars is tossed around with nearly the same carefree attitude that one talks about the latest value meal at the local burger joint.
And how is that the Warriors – who have had one of the most impressive two-year runs in NBA history – can afford to keep all three of the NBA All-Stars on its roster – Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — and still be a front runner for one of the most prized free agents to hit the open market since LeBron James?
Curry is a major reason why the Warriors can sit down Friday and try to lure Kevin Durant to the Bay Area.
On his own team, Curry’s $12.1 million salary ranks behind Thompson’s $17.8, Green’s $16.5 million and Andrew Bogut’s $12.68 heading into the 2016-2017 season.
Curry averaged 25 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals a game in the regular season as Golden State rolled to a league record 73 wins. Oh yeah and he won his second consecutive NBA MVP award.
Then playing on a damaged leg, he helped the team defend its NBA title down to the last seconds of Game 7 of the NBA Finals before falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He never talked much about his injuries, but his play fell short of his regular season performances.
All too often in today’s sports world after an athlete puts up stats like Curry has for the last several seasons, they hole up somewhere with their agent and demand to have their contract renegotiated before they step back on the court, playing field or baseball diamond.
Acting like a spoiled child is not Curry’s style. He has played at his best and chosen to wait until his current pact runs out next season.
Around the NBA there are several players whose stats and impact on the game pales in comparison with Curry.
Brook and Robin Lopez/Photo by Nathaniel S Butler NBAE via Getty Images
Let’s start with the Lopez brothers – Brook and Robin.
Brook Lopez is set to make $21 million next season with the Brooklyn Nets. The veteran big man out of Stanford averaged 33 minutes a game for the Nets this past season scoring 20.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists a contest.
Granted it was a career year, but Brooklyn failed to make the playoffs with a 21-61 record.
Robin Lopez, meanwhile, is set to make $13.2 million next year. He’s coming off a regular season where he scored 10.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists a game for the woeful New York Knicks.
He was traded at the end of the 2015-2016 season from the Knicks to the Chicago Bulls as part of the Derrick Rose trade.
Tobias Harris/Photo by Nathaniel S Butler NBAE via Getty Images
Harris is set to make $14.8 million from the Detroit Pistons during the upcoming season.
While Harris is considered a building block for the young Pistons, he averaged 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists for Detroit after his trade from Orlando to the Pistons. For his seven-year career, Harris has scored 13.2 points, pulled down 5.8 rebounds and dished off 1.5 assists a contest.
Enes Kanter/Photo by Noah Graham NBAE via Getty Images
Kanter is a familiar name to Warriors from Oklahoma City’s NBA Western Conference finals showdown with Golden State. He showed flashes of brilliance coming off the bench and for that he will be paid $17.8 million for the 2016-2017 season.
He averaged 12.7 points, pulled down 8.1 rebounds and dished off 0.4 assists a contest during the 2015-2016 regular season. His career stats are 10.7 points a game, 6.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists a contest.
Ricky Rubio/Photo by David Sherman NBAE via Getty Images
Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio plays the same point guard position as Curry, but that’s as far as the comparison goes. Rubio is set to be paid $14.1 million during the upcoming season.
Last year, Rubio averaged 10.1 points, 8.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds a game during the regular season as the Timberwolves missed the NBA playoffs with a 29-53 record.