Brandon Payne has trained Stephen Curry since 2011, so the two have a long-standing rapport when it comes to injury recoveries.
Last Thursday night, a day after Curry sprained ligaments in his left foot after Marcus Smart dove on him going for a loose ball, Payne spoke to Curry about his prognosis and what was next. Payne detailed the conversation with 95.7 The Game’s “The Morning Roast” Monday:
“We talked through all the different scenarios,” Payne told hosts Bonta Hill and Joe Shasky. “What ultimately came out of it was, it’s not near as bad as it could have been.”
Steph told reporters Sunday that he’s optimistic he’ll be back in time for the first round of the playoffs, which start April 16. That’s exactly a month for Curry to recover.
Payne noted that he has helped Curry work through late-season injuries before, citing the time he hurt his knee after he slipped on a wet spot in Houston in Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference first round. Curry also sprained his MCL on March 23, 2018 when JaVale McGee fell into his knee falling to the floor.
“Unfortunately, we’re kind of comfortable in this position,” Payne said. “I know that sounds funny, but we do have a good history and a good track record for preparing quickly coming off of injury. We know what we’re doing. For that reason, we’re probably a little bit more positive than most people would be in this situation.”
Curry didn’t express concern that conditioning would be an issue once he returns to the Warriors, who are expected to re-evaluate him around April 1. Payne is confident in Curry’s ability to hit the ground at full speed for the playoffs.
“The conditioning part, quite frankly, that’s the least of our concerns,” Payne said. “That’s never really a problem. From a cardiovascular standpoint, the guy is a freak of nature. It’s crazy how quickly he gets re-conditioned. For us, it’s just making sure that there’s strength and full functionality within the injured area, within that foot.”
Payne also relayed an anecdote about third-year guard Jordan Poole, who has been renowned for his work ethic throughout his young career and is making a late-season ascent with nine straight games of at least 20 points.
“I still vividly remember right before Jordan’s rookie year, him coming in and just kind of sitting and watching and he looked at me at the end of one of Stephen's workouts one time and said, ‘Does he always move that fast in workouts,’” Payne said. “It was an eye-opening thing for him. At the time he didn’t join us for workouts, I think it was a little too far out from what he'd been doing. But over time, he eventually started to slide into some workouts with us and eventually started to work at that pace and understand all the little details that Steph works on daily. He started to incorporate those into what he does.”