Charlottean Seth Curry is no stranger to gratification deferred.
He spent his first college basketball season (2008-09) at Liberty, before playing well enough to transfer to national power Duke. He wasn’t selected in the 2013 NBA draft, partly because of an injury, working his way up through minor-league basketball and 10-day contracts before landing a multiyear contract with the Dallas Mavericks in 2016.
This season was supposed to be the NBA reward for Curry, son of Charlotte Hornets icon Dell and younger brother of Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen. He’d been penciled in as a starter at guard, alongside former N.C. State star Dennis Smith, Jr.
And then…nothing. Curry, 27, has yet to play in a Mavericks season that is 38 games old, due to a stress reaction in his left leg. It is a foregone conclusion he won’t be ready in time for the Mavs’ only game in Charlotte this season, Jan. 10 at Spectrum Center.
There is only one fix for a stress reaction – inactivity. All this sitting and waiting is a royal pain.
“It’s very, very frustrating,” Curry told the Observer Dec. 29, following the Mavs’ road victory over the Pelicans.
“I knew I would have a big role coming into the season. I prepared myself all summer for this season. It’s a huge setback, obviously, but I just have to attack my rehab with what I can do to help myself get back.”
The Mavericks are starting over. While a four-game winning streak – by far their best sustained play this season – has improved the Mavs to 13-25, there are no false hopes the Mavs are primarily focused on the here-and-now.
A projected backcourt of Curry and Smith signaled rebuilding. Dallas is Curry’s fifth NBA stop, by far his best opportunity to date to establish continuity. But this injury is a continuity-killer. The stress reaction was first diagnosed during the preseason in October. The Mavs hoped Curry could at least start practicing in December. He has still not been cleared for on-court activity.
“I can shoot. Right now, I do a little running in the pool” to pursue conditioning on an underwater treadmill that reduces pounding, Curry said. “I can walk on it with no pain, but no full workouts.”
In Curry’s absence, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has started veteran Wesley Matthews at shooting guard. Matthews might have ended up starting regardless, but Curry, who played high school ball at Charlotte Christian, had every expectation this was a season when he’d get abundant playing time.
“The doctors just say, ‘Let it heal,’ and the more activity I have, the slower (recovery) will be,” Curry said. “So I’ve just got to try to be smart about being off of it, and not coming back too early.
“Not 50 percent, not 75 percent, nothing like that. Get it right.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell