Earlier this month, we talked about an almost inevitable trade with Monta Ellis and the Golden State Warriors. With seemingly nothing going right in the bay this season, it looked as if the relationship between Ellis and the Warriors front office was deteriorating quickly. But, with consecutive wins over Portland and Dallas (granted without Shawn Marion), things in Northern Cali are looking a little less gloomy.
There is no question that the mood in Golden State has been unsettling as of late. Moving out the volatile – albeit talented – Stephen Jackson to Charlotte in exchange for the defensive-minded Raja Bell was a good start to fix the attitude out West. The Warriors caved into Jackson’s request to be traded and they cannot afford to fold on moving Ellis as well. If Don Nelson is not the answer to lead the team – and for the record I don’t think that he is – then that is where Golden State need to focus its attention. Warriors’ management and coaching is not coexisting well with its players; consequently resulting in a horrid team atmosphere and complete lack of cohesiveness.
Whereas Ellis is not the most selfless guy you will find on an NBA roster, he doesn’t suffer from a lack of effort on the court; something you can’t say about every Warriors player (uh, Maggette…). For those who resort to thinking that Ellis is a one-dimensional system scorer, let me introduce you to his stat lines recently.
Over the last five games, Ellis is averaging 27.6 points, 6.4 assists and 3.6 steals. In a win against Dallas last night, Ellis dropped 37 and 8 dimes. (Although, he did tally 11 turnovers, which is about nine too many.) Ellis is not only scoring in bunches, he is also scraping for loose balls and involving his teammates. He’s undeniably been the driving force behind their few wins this season.
Knocking on Ellis, it’s true that he will not win any sportsmanship awards this season and is quickly becoming somewhat of a prima donna. But Golden State is also sitting at 5-8 and tied for last place in the Northwest division with Sacramento. Is trading out Ellis for an expiring contract and lesser talent worth the result it will get in the long run?
This is where it gets hazy for me. On one hand, I think losing Ellis without getting a star in return leaves the Warriors too wounded to recover in the near future. But on the flip, Portland was in a similar situation when they brought in Nate McMillan to forage past the Jail Blazers era, and they have turned things around. Ellis and the Warriors should be fine to coexist together this season; but if the Warriors want to build a championship contending team, Ellis might not be their long-term solution. I do like Steph Curry, Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Morrow and Anthony Randolph, who has the potential to really become a star. These are solid young pieces to build around.
If you’re the Warriors, you’ve already inked Ellis to a large contract and he is playing great for you. It’s clear that leaving Nelie in the driver’s seat is not the best solution and changing coaching will help change the culture. If the Warriors can stay out of negative press and continue to string together quality wins like they did against Portland and the Mavs, they can still salvage some of the season. Ellis will continue to do well in Golden State if he can keep relations with management civil. Then again, he might get traded tomorrow; that’s the NBA, and that’s the Warriors.
I think ESPN’s Chad Ford said it best on Twitter right after Jackson was traded: “Now, if they can find a taker for Maggette and Ellis and most importantly a new owner, GM and coach for the team. Then all is well in GS.”
Well there you go, take it for what it’s worth.
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