ESPN’s Marc Stein writes about the Warriors in his Weekend Dime feature on espn.com. Read the full report here.
Here’s what he wrote about Monta Ellis:
After spending some quality time with the Warriors during their swing through Texas this week, I am quite sure they’re not shopping guard Monta Ellis.
Things always can change fast — again — but Ellis has been simply too good since Stephen Jackson’s departure for the Warriors to think about trying to move him now.
Skeptics will note that the 79 points rung up by Ellis in a back-to-back split in Dallas and San Antonio came with coach Don Nelson away from the team because of a bout with pneumonia. Yet Ellis also had 34 points, eight assists and six steals in Nelson’s final game before taking leave, leading Golden State to a home rout of Portland with his paint penetration, relentless motion … and some uncharacteristically sticky defense against Brandon Roy.
A couple of league insiders called recently asking whether we could offer any backing to rumblings that the Sixers and Warriors were discussing some sort of Elton Brand-for-Ellis swap. We checked and found that there is no credence.
It appears that Jackson’s exit, even though he was tighter with Ellis than anyone else on the team, has liberated his little buddy both on the floor and in the locker room. That doesn’t mean all of Ellis’ well-chronicled clashing with Nelson will be instantly erased when the coach, in his fourth season with the Warriors, makes his expected return to the bench next week. Still, the Warriors are cautiously optimistic for the first time all season that they can sustain some harmony after seeing the response that Ellis’ increasingly vocal leadership has been getting.
Despite being decimated by injuries, Golden State has been right there in road losses to Boston and Cleveland as well as for much of Wednesday’s loss in San Antonio after using just six players in the previous night’s win at Dallas. When the Warriors followed their victory over Portland by stunning the Mavs, Ellis spoke of how the team is “having fun again” and reveling in a “whole different vibe we have right now.”
Is that because Jackson and Nelson were absent? Ellis wouldn’t go there.
“Everybody’s having fun,” Ellis said. “Everybody’s energetic, everybody’s going through practice alive. That’s what I mean by a different vibe. Everybody’s moving the ball, everybody’s sharing the ball, everybody’s playing together.
“When I see myself being more vocal and I see the response that we get, I know that’s what we need.”
Here’s what he wrote about Don Nelson:
The other pressing question circulating in Oakland, especially after the Warriors’ spirited response to interim coach Keith Smart with only six suited-up players in Dallas: Could Nelson’s illness be the precursor to his departure from the bench?
Not unless Nelson, 69, is prepared to walk away from some serious money.
Nelson is scheduled to earn $6 million this season and $6 million next season. But his contract, as I understand it, includes provisions that would reduce those amounts significantly if health reasons preclude him from coaching.
The same principle applies to any suggestion that Nelson might ask to move into a consultant’s role and let Smart take over. The Warriors won’t pay Nelson $6 million annually to consult, and if history is any guide, he wants to collect every cent on his contract as much as he wants the 19 wins he needs to pass Lenny Wilkens for the most regular-season coaching victories in league history.
So look for Nelson to coach through the end of this season at the very least, unless his doctors forbid it or his bosses initiate a coaching change. The distinct vibe I get is that we should expect to see neither of those scenarios any time soon.
It’s thus incumbent on Nelson and Ellis to get past their recent head-butting. Of equal interest, as always, is Nelson’s coexistence with young forward Anthony Randolph, who also would appear to seize more of a prominent role with Jackson in Charlotte.
“We’ve buried that,” Ellis insisted when asked about the negativity that smothered the Warriors for the season’s first six weeks.