Warriors' Steph Curry says March 1 has ‘always been' intended return


SAN FRANCISCO -- Steph Curry went through his post-practice shooting routine Saturday under different circumstances than he has lately. 

No longer wearing a red jersey designated for players who can practice without being touched, the Warriors star donned a normal practice jersey Saturday when he participated in his first scrimmage since breaking his left hand nearly four months ago. At the end of his drills, Curry reiterated his intended return date.

"It's always been March 1," Curry said shortly after Saturday's practice. "But that for me mostly is just to give you a target. You have to have something to work towards in the rehab process because it gives you a barometer for each week. I haven't had any setbacks along the way." 

Curry -- who broke his hand Oct. 30 -- participated in a scrimmage alongside a battered roster. Assistant coaches Luke Loucks and Theo Robertson -- who both played college basketball -- scrimmaged alongside just eight healthy bodies. Nonetheless, Curry was happy to get back on the court. 

"It was fun," Curry said. "I've done every rehab drill you can think of, by yourself in a gym trying to work on your conditioning and skill work. And that's all fun, and there's a purpose to it but there's nothing like playing basketball and competing." 

Curry is in the final stage of his rehab process at the moment. The two-time MVP underwent his second surgery two months ago, removing a screw in his second metacarpal.

The lingering nerve damage in his left hand is forcing the guard to adjust his game. 

"I'm getting used to what a new normal is," Curry said. "It definitely feels different than then right but you try to get to a point to when you're actually playing basketball, you don't think about it. Whether it feels all the way the same or not, that really doesn't matter. it's just as long as I'm not worried about the things I have to do, the strength part of it and how it bounces back the next day after pushing it."  

Saturday's scrimmage featured a much different unit than Curry inherited last summer. Of the 16 players featured on the opening day roster, six are on new teams. All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell, who was acquired in a sign-and-trade to facilitate Kevin Durant's move to the Brooklyn Nets, Russell was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins after Golden State deemed he wasn't a suitable fit alongside Curry.

Wiggins played alongside Curry on Saturday, impressing the three-time NBA champion.

"He's a walking 20 points and the intangibles he can bring in terms of speed," Curry said. "Cutting, his length on defense, all of those things will be a fun process to build that chemistry."

"You look at our lineup and it makes sense in terms of the position that he plays and the skill set that he brings, and obviously with me and Klay coming back healthy, trying to predict what that would look like," Curry added. "So he's shown some bright spots about what he's going to be able to do on the floor, and I'm excited about it."

Curry's returning at a strange time for the Warriors. Golden State owned the NBA's worst record (12-45) entering Sunday, firmly on track to end its run of five straight NBA Finals appearances. The team ruled Klay Thompson out for the season earlier this week, as he continues to rehab his torn ACL.

With losses mounting, some NBA observers opined that Curry should sit out for the rest of the season in order to prevent further injury. The guard scoffed at the notion following Saturday's practice. 

“I’m going to do what’s best for me," he said. "And that’s about it.”

As for his current rehab timetable, he'd return a week from Saturday against for a home matchup against the Washington Wizards. That's contingent on how his hand responds to practice and not having setbacks.  

"We'll give him more scrimmaging and more contact and we'll see how the coming week goes and hopefully," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Before too long he'll be ready to go."

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Though Curry will return to a team more primed for a draft press conference in June than a parade, he believes the Warriors will return to their winning ways sooner than later. 

"We've had a hell of a run and we know we have a lot more in the tank," he said. "So at the end of the day it'll be good for me to get back out and there and try to help bring some positivity, some energy, some joy to what we do, finish the year strong and we'll be trying to get back to the drawing board in the summer."

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