SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry still isn’t cleared to take contact in practice as he continues his rehab from a broken left hand. But as he gets closer to returning over the next few weeks, his teammates and coaches dropped a new nickname on him during Tuesday’s practice as he ran around the floor in a red jersey sleeve, worn on top of his jersey to signify that he wasn’t to be touched.
“We were calling him Tom Brady today,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the evening session. “‘Don’t touch Steph.’ I think it was more for fun than anything, but he took part in everything other than our scrimmage. We scrimmaged at the end and he didn’t do that, but he took part in everything else, and he’s looking great.”
Kerr noted that the team still doesn’t have an official timetable on when Curry will return, but the hope within the organization has always been that the former MVP would be back at some point in early March.
Kerr said that Curry — who has been around the team much more over the past month or so after spending some of the early rehab process in Los Angeles — will not take contact in practice this week.
“I don’t know when he’s going to be allowed to scrimmage,” Kerr said. “It’s not this week or anything, but he looks really good. He’s gaining strength, gaining confidence, and he’s been putting himself through some brutal workouts. So his conditioning is about as good as it can possibly be for somebody who hasn’t been able to scrimmage because of what he does and how he goes about his work.”
Curry broke his hand after a collision with Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes on Oct. 30. After the initial surgery to fix the fracture on Nov. 1, Curry had a scheduled follow-up procedure in December to take out pins from the hand.
He has appeared in good spirits as he gets closer to rejoining his teammates on the floor. Kerr acknowledged after Tuesday’s practice that one of the keys is that Curry will be adjusting to all the new faces on the roster, including Andrew Wiggins, whom the Warriors acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves before the trade deadline.
“I think it’s important for Steph and Andrew to get to know each other and to play together,” Kerr said. “I think it’s important for Steph to play without all the guys we’ve lost who are not gonna be back next year — Kevin [Durant] and Andre [Iguodala] and Shaun [Livingston]. Steph, in many ways, has depended on those guys, as sort of a giant security blanket. For a guy who is so skilled and talented, this has still been a team effort over the years, and he’s been blessed with some of the smartest players and most talented players in the league.
“And so it’s gonna be a different look for him, and I think it’s important. He only got three games before his injury, I think it was, so it’s important for him to feel the difference, because it feels different for us. And with all these young guys, we’re trying to teach them on the fly, and a lot of things that we have taken for granted over the last five years, we can’t take for granted anymore. Steph needs to feel that himself. And so that’s a big part of this last quarter of the season that he’s gonna be a part of.”
Aside from Curry’s progress, Kerr reiterated that it’s doubtful swingman Klay Thompson will return this season as he continues his rehab from a torn ACL in his left knee. Thompson suffered the injury in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June against the Toronto Raptors.
“It’s so different, because with Steph, there’s a definite timetable,” Kerr said. “It’s easy to look and say, ‘In a couple weeks, Steph’s going to be ready to play.’ I don’t know exactly [when], but Klay’s a long ways from that, so I don’t even entertain any thoughts of Klay playing this year.
“But I do know that this last part of the season is an important stretch for us to springboard into next year. And with the trade for Andrew and all the young guys we’re trying to develop and Steph’s return, these are important games. They allow us to get to know each other and to play together and maybe fiddle with some lineups, fiddle with some schemes, and get a look at them over the summer before we get back to camp.”