As he pondered his free agent options this summer, Seth Curry simply fell back on who and what he knew best.
Curry was a member of the Dallas Mavericks during the 2016-18 seasons. While the sharpshooting guard missed the entire 2017-18 campaign because of a stress reaction to his left tibia that required surgery, he enjoyed his breakout NBA year with the Mavs during the 2016-17 season when he posted career highs of 12.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting a career-best 48.1 percent from the field.
So after playing last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Curry stepped back into his comfort zone this summer when he signed a four-year, $32-million free agent contract with the Mavs. For him, it was a no-brainer to come back and join coach Rick Carlisle’s squad.
“It feels like this is where I’m supposed to be after having the one good year here and missing the second year with injuries,” Curry said. “Obviously it felt good to come back.
“I’m familiar with the organization, I’m familiar with the coaching staff. I think just knowing the organization, knowing the city, it’s the place where I was most comfortable coming and I’m happy to be here. It’s a new roster, but I’m excited and ready to go.”
With the emergence of then-rookie point guard Luka Doncic last season and the addition of Kristaps Porzingis this season, it was only natural that the Mavs venture out and shake the free agent trees and come away with a phenomenal shooter like Curry.
“We have a strong feeling about Seth because he really had his breakout year with us three years ago,” Carlisle said. “As free agency was happening, we needed shooters.
“If you’re going to have great players like Doncic and Porzingis, you’ve got to have guys around those guys that are going to be dependable guys that can bang in shots.”
Curry started a career-high 42 games for the Mavs during 2016-17, and only has 53 starts in his six-year career. In short, his career got off the ground and blossomed while under Carlisle, and he never forgot that.
“I got the opportunity to come in and play a lot of different roles on this team, getting a lot of minutes,” Curry said. “Obviously coach puts you in a good position to succeed offensively and using my skill set, so I’m excited to get back and work with him again.
“And I’m a much better player than I was when I left, so I’m excited.”
Carlisle acknowledged that Curry improved his defense with the Blazers, which in turn, made him a lethal two-way threat whenever he was in the game. He also was a big reason the Blazers advanced to the Western Conference Finals last season.
That’s the memorable series that pitted Seth and the Blazers against his brother, Steph Curry, and the Golden State Warriors. It had the Curry family jetting back and forth between Portland and Oakland to watch the brothers Curry.
“It was fun and it was an epic series for our family – it’s something I will always remember,” Seth Curry said. “Just being on that (conference finals) stage for the first time against one of the best teams of all-time, and competing against those guys and be able to play well, even though we got swept (4-0) it didn’t feel like it.
“We were up big in every game pretty much. It was a competitive series. Again, a lot of experience personally throughout that entire two months. Like I said, playing on that stage and playing at a high level, hopefully I can bring that here to some of the guys.”
With the Blazers, Curry got to play with Portland’s backcourt phenoms of Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum. Obviously, he learned a thing or two from that duo.
“They’re two of the best guards in the league — (one of) the best backcourts in the league,” Curry said. “Being able to go in there and contribute to that team and help those guys get better and take the next step in the playoffs, it was great.
“I’m trying to do the same thing here. I’m trying to help Luka and KP get better, trying to spread the floor for those guys and give them space. And that’s what I feel like I’m here for – to help those guys take the next step, make life easier for them every single night, help them get better in practice and during the season and hopefully get their feet wet in the playoffs.”
Curry is especially enamored by what Doncic was able to accomplish last season en route to winning the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.
“First of all, just playing with Luka, watching him play and playing against him, you can see his high basketball IQ level,” Curry said. “The way he can see the floor, the way he passes, that’s exciting. I think anybody who can shoot the ball and can score would want to play with a guy like that.
“But also, him and KP, just their versatility. They can play a lot of different positions, they can play with the ball, without the ball. I think coach is going to be able to do a lot of different things this year with our roster and we should be a handful to guard.”
And if the Mavs happen to advance to the playoffs and face the Los Angeles Clippers and coach Doc Rivers, Curry said it would be just another day at the office. Even though Curry just married Rivers’ daughter, Callie, on Sept. 14, and the couple has a one-year old daughter.
“It’s no different,” Curry said. “It’s about going out there and winning and doing your job.”
When it comes to pure shooting, not many players, according to Carlisle, do their job better than Curry. He is a career 43.9 percent marksman from beyond the 3-point arc, while Steph Curry is a career 43.6 percent shooter from downtown.
“You look at analytics, Seth Curry is one of the best shooters in the game,” Carlisle said. “He’s up there with his brother and (Kevin) Durant and a few other guys – Lillard and McCollum.
“He’s really, really good. We had a chance to get him back. We were extremely excited.”
So was Curry.
“I knew I had the talent and the capabilities to be an impact player in the league, but it’s nothing if you don’t get the opportunity,” Curry said. “First of all, (owner) Mark (Cuban) and (general manager) Donnie (Nelson) brought me in, and coach gave me the opportunity and put me in good spots, like I said, to succeed.
“And from there it’s on the player to make it happen. I know they know what I can do as a player now.”