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Stephen Curry: One that got away?

The Wizards were never seriously interested in keeping the fifth overall pick last summer, with President Ernie Grunfeld always looking to make a deal that would bolster his team's depth. They did their due diligence, scouting the top prospects and bringing them in for workouts.

But after going through that exhausting process, Grunfeld determined that none of the players available to the Wizards at No. 5 could make an immediate influence on a veteran-laden team. So, he decided to package the choice in a deal with Minnesota that added Randy Foye and Mike Miller.


Could you have used me, D.C.? (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Looking back, that decision is debatable, with the Wizards foundering for the second year in a row, lacking future building blocks, and Foye and Miller both possibly gone as free agents this summer.

In the days leading up to the NBA draft, Stephen Curry had endorsements from Caron Butler and won a landslide vote from readers of this blog in the unofficial/unscientific Wizards Insider poll.

"I liked him last year when he was here, I loved him," Coach Flip Saunders said on Tuesday. "I'm sure if we wouldn't have traded our pick, he was probably a guy that we probably would've strongly considered at that spot. He's got great poise and a great feel for the game and he never seems to be in a rush situation. He's going to be a very good player in this league for a long time."

The Timberwolves, of course, used the pick on Ricky Rubio, who stayed in Spain, but you have to wonder how much different this season would've been with Curry around; especially with Foye done for the season with a wrist injury and Miller missing 28 games with various injuries.

The Wizards' draft board consisted of Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans, Rubio and James Harden. Had the Wizards kept the pick, three of those players would've already been gone, and left the Wizards to decide between Rubio and possibly Curry, who went seventh overall to Golden State.

With Curry developing into a legitimate candidate for rookie of the year, it was hard not to imagine what could've been if the Wizards had decided to take the sharp-shooting son of former NBA player Dell Curry instead. Curry admitted before last night's game that he thought he was D.C. bound.

"Before they made the trade, definitely going through the whole workout process and everything, this was high on my list," Curry said. "Once they traded the pick, it was kind of the end of it."

Curry scored 27 points against the Wizards for the second time this season. His performance on Tuesday came despite the fact that he jammed his right shoulder trying to set a screen on the first play of the game. It was hard to tell how much the injury affected him as he led his team in scoring, made 10-of-21 shots and connected on three three-poiners. As has been the case on many nights this season, Curry was the lone bright spot for the Warriors but he said he didn't have any added incentive.

"It's not really a chip on my shoulder thing. That's not how I operate," Curry said. "No real hard feelings for anybody who didn't want to pick me, no extra importance about it."

No matter what Curry says, he shows it on the court. Curry ranks second among rookies in scoring at 16.6 points, trailing Evans, but ranks first in assists (5.8), steals (1.81) and three-point field goal percentage (42.9). He also avoided hitting the rookie wall, as he steadily improved each month. Curry won rookie of the month for March after averaging 19.8 points, 7.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.79 steals.

"I've said that it's either going to be him or Tyreke Evans for Rookie of the Year," Saunders said.

Curry enjoyed his lone visit to Washington this season, as the Warriors got to visit the White House. "Never really seen it in person or walked by it so it was a great experience, going through all the rooms and seeing how each president has left their mark on the White House and traditions and all that stuff was very cool," he said. "I saw [Obama's personal aide] Reggie Love, who is from Charlotte and went to my rival high school. He was telling me he remembered me when I was in 7th grade trying to play ball."

Curry has put up some incredible statistics in his rookie season in Golden State, as he had a triple double on Feb. 10 against the Los Angeles Clippers (36 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds) to join Jason Kidd, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Elgin Balyor as the only rookies to have a 35-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist game. Curry said he has not spent this season trying to prove a point to anyone.

"I've had critics all my life, coming out of high school, coming out of college, so it didn't really affect me too much," he said. "I just wanted to be as productive as I could with the opportunity that was in front of me."


By Michael Lee  |  April 7, 2010; 1:05 PM ET
 
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Next: Shaun Livingston discusses his future, Al Thornton to return against Magic

Comments

Some will call it hindsight? (kal)

But some of us were on here posting that the move sucked the day it was made.

The Wizards tried to spin it like Rubio was the only player available with the 5th pick but as usual they were wrong.

Time to move forwad with a new GM!

Someone who understands that the 5th pick in the draft is a vaulable asset!


Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

scoring in bunches on a losing nellie squad is pretty much par for the course isnt it? Not that Curry isnt having a fine season, but from watching him and Jennings I still dont think the wiz missed out on all that much.

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

This is the Wiz history: just looking one year ahead and forgetting about the future. However, the future always arrives. Where are the Wiz when it does? As usual, looking up at the good teams who plan ahead!

Posted by: EdDC | April 7, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I am trying to stay tempered in my enthusiasm for Livingston but it is getting harder. A month ago I said let's see if he is still playing at the end of the season before we proclaim him point guard of the future. With a few games left he only appears to be getting stronger.

Lots of knee scar tissue on this franchise, and it would certainly be a gamble, but I am leaning toward offering a multi-year before he can explore. Too much upside to let him get away, clearly a natural point guard and the tallest in the league? Is there another 6'7" point right now? Such a huge advantage to be able to see and pass over the top of any other point guard in the league.

I can't think of another available guard I like more right now and there is a significant learning curve for a rookie point. I say let's roll the dice and lock him up...not like we are pressed for cap space.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | April 7, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

scoring in bunches on a losing nellie squad is pretty much par for the course isnt it? Not that Curry isnt having a fine season, but from watching him and Jennings I still dont think the wiz missed out on all that much.

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Considering MM won't be here next year and Foye could walk too...

There are at least 5 players I would like to have on next years squad that the Wizards passed on and all of them will be better players than Foye will ever be!

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

shadow, i'm on board. we have the money and he should be happy with some guaranteed coin. Dont break the bank of course, but take the gamble on him for sure

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Ernie needs to lock up Livingston ASAP. We don't wanna get Gee-ed again. If Ernie falls asleep we'll lose him fer sure.

Posted by: VBFan | April 7, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

The_Shadow_Knows

I wouldn't have a problem with the Wizards signing Livingston.

If the new Wizards (under Ted) decides that the front line is going to be AB, JM and AT then I am all for modeling the team after OKC.

A young team that can grow together.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Some will call it hindsight? (kal)

But some of us were on here posting that the move sucked the day it was made.

The Wizards tried to spin it like Rubio was the only player available with the 5th pick but as usual they were wrong.

Time to move forwad with a new GM!

Someone who understands that the 5th pick in the draft is a vaulable asset!
Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

good stuff. everyone was so wrapped up in rubio as if we had to pick HIM if we didn't trade the pick. the other argument was that we made the trade like 3 days before the draft, we coulda made Minny sweat if we dragged it out, especially since they were set on Rubio, and maybe give us a lil more than the dead weight we ended up with.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | April 7, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

If we drafted curry this is what would have happened.

Saunders would have played Arenas, Mike James at PG Deshawn Stevenson, and NY and SG. Curry would be off the bench playing only 12 mins and average 9 ppg because Flip and EG love veterans. After GA and JC pull out guns on each other he would start to get major minutes but the season would already be lost.

Posted by: jefferu | April 7, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

i'm far from sold on Al Soreton. If he gets 20 touches he takes 17 shots, and he seems even more on/off than NY.

show me summin tonight Al!

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

i'm far from sold on Al Soreton. If he gets 20 touches he takes 17 shots, and he seems even more on/off than NY.

show me summin tonight Al!

Posted by: divi3

Right on.
I think I'd play Nick over AT.
And not just because of last night.
AT gotta show me more than I've seen so far.

Posted by: VBFan | April 7, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Seems Mr. GM is testing a new plan draft picks. Trade your pick and wait a year or few after they're in the NBA and riding the bench. Then sign the player you should have drafted. God knows they need to try some type of plan. Oh I forgot...THEY HAVE NO PLAN.

Posted by: funnybone1 | April 7, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

""Curry won rookie of the month for March after averaging 19.8 pints, 7.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.79 steals.""


I might be alone on this, but the kid just doesn't strike me as that heavy a drinker.

Posted by: artiesliver | April 7, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I want to know who the 6% are that voted for...

Make the same deal with Minnesota for Randy Foye & Mike Miller?

Where have you've been all year?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Some will call it hindsight? (kal)

But some of us were on here posting that the move sucked the day it was made.

The Wizards tried to spin it like Rubio was the only player available with the 5th pick but as usual they were wrong.

Time to move forwad with a new GM!

Someone who understands that the 5th pick in the draft is a vaulable asset!
Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

hoops guys are usually more about tha ganja than the heavy drinkin. he's a glass of milk and cookie kid all day.....right after tha doobie(he's got sleepy eyes)

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | April 7, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

6% of the 144 votes that voted for...

Make the same deal with Minnesota for Randy Foye & Mike Miller?

equals 8.64

The 8 must be ernie, flip, Irene, Robert, and James Pollin (since they saved money), MM and Foye.

That leaves Kal as the .64!

It makes since they counted him less than a whole vote since he doesn't have anything between his legs?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I want to know who the 6% are that voted for...

Make the same deal with Minnesota for Randy Foye & Mike Miller?

Where have you've been all year?

Posted by: bulletsfan78

I have posted even recently that I can understand EG's rationale for making the deal, but even I didn't vote to repeat it. Yikes.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Cincy Frosh Lance Stephenson enters NBA Draft whaddaya think? I'm certain he's worth a 2nd rounder, but does he vault into the first after 1 so-so year at cincy?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | April 7, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Jordan Hill would have been the best use of that pick. He is raw, it'll take a couple years, but look at the progression of his college stats, look at how hard he plays, his rebounds and blocks, yeah, with the little court time he's getting he takes bad shots, but he will be a force in the NBA with good coaching. Maybe not a franchise player, but a solid four who will play hard for the next dozen years. Wiz need a brand makeover, inside as well as outside the organization. They haven't had any defense since the early eighties.

Posted by: milfordone | April 7, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Cincy Frosh Lance Stephenson enters NBA Draft whaddaya think? I'm certain he's worth a 2nd rounder, but does he vault into the first after 1 so-so year at cincy?

Posted by: lilhollywood10

Talented kid with the kind of questions that scream "second round" and "non-guaranteed contract". There's always a chance though that he shows well enough in all of the pre-draft stuff to get someone to fall in love with him.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10

You have to love CA they have medical ganja!

I know since I have been out here I have had a bad case of glaucoma?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"Debateable?" Lee is being kind. The move has worked out terribly and will be even more of a disaster if/when Miller and Foye leave as free agents. And -- full disclosure here -- I was one of the ones who thought it was a good idea and that the Wizards would win 47-50 games this year. Although, if they had kept the pick and drafted Rubio, it probably would have worked out about as badly.

Posted by: rbpalmer | April 7, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

""Curry won rookie of the month for March after averaging 19.8 pints, 7.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.79 steals.""


I might be alone on this, but the kid just doesn't strike me as that heavy a drinker.

Posted by: artiesliver | April 7, 2010 2:33 PM


19.8 pints is nothing for a young guy like him, unless it's Bacardi 151.

Posted by: harrybalz | April 7, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

If we drafted curry this is what would have happened.

Saunders would have played Arenas, Mike James at PG Deshawn Stevenson, and NY and SG. Curry would be off the bench playing only 12 mins and average 9 ppg because Flip and EG love veterans. After GA and JC pull out guns on each other he would start to get major minutes but the season would already be lost.

Posted by: jefferu | April 7, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with this. And it makes a bigger point: Just signing or resigning players piecemeal doesn't get you anywhere unless everyone is working from the same plan. Curry is doing well at GS because he fits into how they/Nelly want to play basketball. At draft time, the Wiz (unfortunately) were not into giving rookies the green light to chuck up three-point shots.

To go back to the previous debate about pairing Livingston-Gilbert, no offense to anyone but the notion that Gilbert is going to change his game and be a #2 guard just seems like a total fantasy to me. Furthermore, he'd be eaten alive defensively by true/big #2 guards, so Livingston would have to guard the other teams #2. Frankly, I'm tired of experiments.

Posted by: jweber1 | April 7, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

To go back to the previous debate about pairing Livingston-Gilbert, no offense to anyone but the notion that Gilbert is going to change his game and be a #2 guard just seems like a total fantasy to me. Furthermore, he'd be eaten alive defensively by true/big #2 guards, so Livingston would have to guard the other teams #2. Frankly, I'm tired of experiments.

Posted by: jweber1

The only hope I see for this would be that Gil would be more willing to give up the rock in the way that he was when he was paired with Hughes. On some level he viewed Larry as close to an equal player. I doubt he would view Livingston as an equal, but he might respect his game enough to let the kid split the PG duties on offense.

As for on D, you're pretty much right on, with the added catch that both Gil and SL have trouble defending smaller quicker PGs, meaning there might be nights when neither player matches up well with their man.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Just signing or resigning players piecemeal doesn't get you anywhere unless everyone is working from the same plan.

Frankly, I'm tired of experiments.

Posted by: jweber1 | April 7, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Here is Ernie's cover letter that he sent Abe

Dear Abe,

I believe a team should experiment by signing or resigning players piecemeal without a plan as long as it keeps the organization under the luxury cap.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, of course looking back it's easy to say they should have taken Curry.

Unless you're just trying to promote Curry, what's the point of this article? And, why stop there. They could have had Garnett, Tim Duncan and Paul Gasol .. the list goes on.

Last night the 2nd rate Zards beat Curry and the GS Warriors. Crushed them actually. Curry should have stayed home and ate some currie, wouldn't have mattered would it?

.25 and this article will get you a ring-ding, so go cash it in. Who cares about the past, it's what the grande poobahs do for this draft and summer that really matters.

Posted by: boblas | April 7, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Correction .. substitute Carl Malone for Duncan in my above post.

Posted by: boblas | April 7, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10

You have to love CA they have medical ganja!

I know since I have been out here I have had a bad case of glaucoma?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 7, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abu
i think the medicine becomes legal here within 90 days and in MD before the year is out. i was just telling my physician about my chronic back pain,loss of appetite, anxiety and inability to sleep. See u at the pharmacy!

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | April 7, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Ernie is a spendthrift who is too cheap to sign a player that is a real bargain (Livingston) and who overpays an oft injured, dangerously self-absorbed combination guard (Arenas). Ernie's got to go. He completely misjudged the combination of the personnel he got for the team at the start of the season; in blowing up the team that he constructed, he kept the one player responsible for the disaster, and the risk of that happening again is too great for him to remain as GM. The responsibility for business failures starts at the upper most levels of an organization - where Ernie is.

Posted by: DoubleEagle1 | April 7, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Ernie "Wes" Grunfeld will resign or be fired soon after the season ends. What a fool.

Posted by: nativedc | April 7, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

SL may not want to sign here given there is already an $80mill/man at PG

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Considering Gilby has gone under the knife 3 times in the last 2 years I think signing Livingston to a 4/5 year deal makes good sense.

How about 4 years 16-18 million to get the talks started?

I doubt any other team would offer him a 4 year deal with his injury history.

Plus, keep in mind Arenas is on probation for the next 2 years. If he's caught speeding on the Dulles toll road it could be curtains....

Posted by: elfreako | April 7, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

"The Wizards were never seriously interested in keeping the fifth overall pick last summer"

By Michael Lee | April 7, 2010; 1:05 PM ET

This is no surprise to anyone who follows the Wizards closely. But it's amazing to hear the hack that is Michael Lee admit this now, as if he didn't try to lead his readers countless times last offseason into thinking the Wizards were going to use their pick. Lee is so full of crap so often it's amazing the Post keeps him in his job.

And no, we didn't waste the pick on Foye and Miller. The biggest reason we traded away the pick was so we could get the dead weight baggage Etan Thomas off of the roster. The guy was a menace in the locker room and a racist to boot. He prevented Haywood from ever reaching his potential and off the court spread his pitiful and hateful ignorance as often as he could. The Wizards had tried getting rid of him for years and trading him last summer was priority number one for this team.

So no, the pick wasn't wasted. We got rid of Etan, which makes it a hugely successful trade.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 7, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

He prevented Haywood from ever reaching his potential
Posted by: Barno1

Yeah, by playing harder than Haywood....what the heck was Etan thinking? But I get that you just have an axe to grind, so relevant facts are secondary.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

And no, we didn't waste the pick on Foye and Miller. The biggest reason we traded away the pick was so we could get the dead weight baggage Etan Thomas off of the roster. The guy was a menace in the locker room and a racist to boot. He prevented Haywood from ever reaching his potential and off the court spread his pitiful and hateful ignorance as often as he could. The Wizards had tried getting rid of him for years and trading him last summer was priority number one for this team.

So no, the pick wasn't wasted. We got rid of Etan, which makes it a hugely successful trade.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 7, 2010 4:10 PM

I won't even touch your comments on Etan and his character (which you back up with no facts), but the simple truth is Etan would have been off the books this summer anyway. Further, the only involvement Etan had with hindering Brendan's development was beating him out for minutes in Eddie Jordan's view. That's hardly Etan's fault.

Posted by: harrybalz | April 7, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

etan's not racist, republicans just happen to be white.

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

i hadnt seen Bogut's comments before, didnt realize he posted here as DC-Man

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of ones that got away . . .

I don't generally much care for Bill Simmons, but he outright nails this one on Rasheed Wallace. The fact that he does it in the context of whining about his beloved Celtics only makes it better:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100407&sportCat=nba

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

" the other argument was that we made the trade like 3 days before the draft, we coulda made Minny sweat if we dragged it out, especially since they were set on Rubio, and maybe give us a lil more than the dead weight we ended up with."

That was a crap argument then and it remains so to this day.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

"But I get that you just have an axe to grind, so relevant facts are secondary."

I think you're giving relevant facts way more weight than they've aver actually had in argument he's ever made regarding Thomas.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

"Someone who understands that the 5th pick in the draft is a vaulable asset!"

How valuable is the fifth pick? Let's take a look.

Suppose you had every 5th pick since 1999 -- an impossibility, of course, but for the sake of argument, let's say you did. Here's who might be on your team right now:
Jonathan Bender
Mike Miller (!)
Jason Richardson
Nik Tskitishvili
Dwyane Wade
Devin Harris
Ray Felton
Shelden Williams
Jeff Green
Kevin Love
Ricky Rubio

Wade is a coup, of course, but outside of that, you've got one certified bust, one victim of injury, one guy who may never play on this side of the Atlantic, a couple former borderline All-Stars, and some role players. Your team would make the playoffs, but that's about it.

When somebody insists that the fifth pick has tremendous value, they're not really talking the fifth picks as they actually happened. They mean who you might have selected fifth that year, provided you were tremendously smart, or lucky, or some combination of the two. No fan ever considers the fact that in order to continually finish in the bottom portion of the lottery, his team would have to be run by idiots, who may well have picked even worse players (such as passing on Wade in favor of Mike Sweetney).

The fifth pick has value, sure. But given the Wiz' estimate of the team at the time of last year's draft -- a completely incorrect estimate, that -- they actually made a smart move. There's a good chance they'll lose both of their signees from last year at the end of this one, which should further speed up the destruction and rebuilding of the club. Not that there's any guarantee that they'll choose the right players this time around, either.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 7, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

People including the Washington Post sports writers give Grunfeld way too much credit...He is a poor evaluator of talent , he not only missed out on Curry but also Dujan Blair who gets major minutes with San Antonio.....

Posted by: BeatDontStop | April 7, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

By the time the season starts again we won't have anything to show for the 5th pick we dealt last year. Foye won't wish to come back and Miller will move to a less dysfunctional environment. As someone said earlier we most likely would not have had Curry chucking up shots like he is dong with the Warriors but he can play at a measured pace as well.

Posted by: anacostia85 | April 7, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

The decision to trade for those 2 was "debatable"???? That is hilarious.

Posted by: mschmall625 | April 7, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

At the time, it was absolutely the right move. If only, EG had the hindsight you guys are working with. Bulletsfan, all you do is predict doom and gloom and then gloat when it happens. Of course, you would be correct if you posted on any NBA board besides the eventual champions you nimrod. And, while having a Curry might be nice he is not some franchise changer and is only putting up those numbers bc he is on the GSW's. A team whose players put up abnormal offensive numbers as well as their opponents - i.e. no shocker NY put up his season high against them or JM for that matter.

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 7, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

@Samson,

Spot on post. But, try getting through to people like Bulletsfan. Not happening. LMAO. In addition, last year's draft was considered WEAK, unusually weak. As opposed to this years draft which is considered unusually strong. A bad pick this year and I'll be on board bashing. But, last year's move made perfect sense.

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 7, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't see this spindly Curry kid doing any more than scoring some decent points in the system Nellie runs.

It's only a matter of time before he gets hurt. Like last night.

That kid is vastly overrated. Accept it.

Posted by: Rocky420 | April 8, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

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