OAKLAND, Calif About halfway through the morning session Tuesday, second-year Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson gave former Davidson guard Stephen Curry the bad news: The starting point guard was being held out for the rest of the practice.
“He looked at me and said, ‘That’s it?“’ Jackson said. “I thought I was back home with my kids.”
“It’s too early to (put up a fight),” Curry said. “I think I threw my mouthpiece, and that was about it.”
Curry’s oft-injured right ankle is one of the key storylines of training camp. After undergoing arthroscopic surgery in April, Curry was cleared for full practice last month and has been working out with his teammates since mid-September.
However, Curry said the drills and scrimmaging the Warriors completed Tuesday during the first practice of training camp were the most intense action his ankle has endured. Curry said he took part in some one-on-one situations and several drills and went over defensive principles.
“We made sure guys got their conditioning in,” Jackson said, pointing out that defense was the focus of Tuesday’s morning session. “We competed at a high level and we got after it a little. ... Most of all, it was just great intensity across the board on both sides of the basketball.”
Jackson, who is in his first full training camp as the Warriors’ coach following last year’s lockout, said he shut down Curry not because he saw something concerning but because he is being cautious.
“It’s important for us to realize it doesn’t matter today. He takes care of his body. He’s in great shape,” Jackson said of Curry, who spent the rest of practice on an exercise bike. “It’s important he doesn’t do anything today that we have to pay for tomorrow.”
Jackson seemed pleased with what he saw before pulling Curry out of practice. Jackson said Curry has his explosiveness back as well as his ability to change speeds and make sudden bursts.
“It felt good,” said Curry, set to start his fourth season. “Every drill that we did, up until Coach pulled me out, felt fluid, felt strong.”
It’s been a long road back for Curry. After surgery in May 2011 failed to solve his ankle issues, he wound up missing 40 games with subsequent sprains. Much of that time he was working and, Curry says, stressing about trying to get back on the court.
To be ready for training camp, Curry relented to having surgery, which he previously declared he didn’t want to have, and spent a second consecutive offseason rehabbing from surgery. He has been in Oakland for over a month, preparing. Tuesday, Curry fell back on his well-honed patience rather than mope.
“I’m sure he had a plan he’s going to stick to as far as what I can do and what I can’t do,” Curry said of Jackson. “Just got to stick to it and be patient. I’m trying to keep the mentality that I’m going to do everything. Eventually, I’ll get to that point if he lets me.”
• Curry, center Andrew Bogut and forward David Lee were named team captains, Jackson announced. “Those guys deserve it,” Jackson said, “and they will be our voice moving forward.”
• Jackson didn’t limit only Curry. Rookie forward Draymond Green and veteran guard Jarrett Jack also spent time on the side. Green was slowed by inflammation in his right knee. He said he was ready to go, but Jackson pulled him out anyway.
Jack was slowed by inflammation in his left knee. Jackson said he pulled Jack aside and told him he was going to practice a limited amount in the morning session. Like Curry, Jack had a hard time hiding the frustration.
“He’s one of the guys specifically who said, ‘Coach, this is killing me being over here,”’ Jackson said. “His body language spoke volumes.”
Bogut (rehabbing left ankle) and rookie forward Rick Jackson (Achilles) both sat out.