Stephen Curry is about to make the Warriors relevant again

After five straight NBA Finals appearances, which included three championships, the Golden State Warriors faded into irrelevance. The departure of Kevin Durant along with injuries to their other top stars left the Warriors to toil through a dreadful 2019-20 campaign in which they sit at the bottom of the NBA standings, an unfathomable 12-44 entering Sunday.

Soon, though, there will be renewed intrigue. Stephen Curry, the two-time MVP, has been cleared for contact after breaking his left hand on Oct. 30 and is scheduled to make his return next Sunday at home against the Wizards, a target date the 31-year-old has had circled on his calendar.

“It’s always been March 1,” Curry told reporters Saturday after taking part in a scrimmage, via ESPN. “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 that gives you a barometer for each week, what you’re building towards. Like I’ve always said, I haven’t had any setbacks along the way, this has been a very long, strenuous rehab process, and it’s something I haven’t been through before, so it’s nice that I’m getting that type of response with every new challenge that I kind of go after.”

Curry’s injury was a gut punch to Golden State, which already had to navigate this season without Klay Thompson, out for the year after tearing his ACL during last year’s NBA Finals.

Steph Curry Warriors return March 1
Steph CurryThe Mercury News via Getty Images

The Warriors tried to get creative in an ultimately futile attempt to stay competitive this season. They inked D’Angelo Russell to a four-year, $117 million contract in a sign-and-trade with the Nets, who landed Durant. Before this month’s NBA trade deadline, Golden State dealt Russell to the Timberwolves for a package including Andrew Wiggins and a top-three protected 2021 first-round pick.

While it’s been an unusual season for Steve Kerr’s Warriors, Curry’s return gives them something to look forward to.

“I think everybody’s excited,” Kerr told reporters. “He got an ovation (Saturday) when I told the group he was going to scrimmage with us. Everybody was excited. It will be good for our young guys to feel what it’s like to play with him and vice versa. Steph needs to get to know these guys, too … it’s a big part of the final third of the season is everybody playing together, acclimating together, with the trade for Andrew [Wiggins], the young guys, Steph coming back, these games matter.”

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