Monta OK with sprained neck

Greetings from Hawaii … since we’re having some technical difficulties getting this updated story on the Web, I thought I would hijack Marcus’ blog and post it here. It’s obviously great news for Monta and the Warriors:

By Geoff Lepper

LAIE, Hawaii — Warriors guard Monta Ellis walked away from a Hawaii hospital late Friday night, just a few hours after suffering a frightening injury during practice that left him lying motionless on the floor of BYU-Hawaii’s gymnasium for more than half an hour.

Team spokesman Raymond Ridder said Ellis was diagnosed with a neck sprain after banging his head on the hip of teammate Brandan Wright during a five-on-five scrimmage nearly 90 minutes into the team’s eighth practice of training camp.

During his roughly three-hour stay in the hospital, Ellis underwent several tests, including an MRI and CAT scan, all of which proved normal, Ridder said. His status was termed “day-to-day” and he was not ruled out from next week’s exhibition games against the Los Angeles Lakers in Honolulu.

Ellis, the NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player, was injured when he tried to knife between two other players on a high screen-and-roll play beyond the top of the key. The play went awry when Ellis tried to squeeze between Wright, who had been setting a screen for him, and defender Austin Croshere.

After the contact with Wright’s hip, Ellis turned 180 degrees, appeared to look in the direction of Marco Belinelli, who had been covering Ellis on the play, and then slowly crumpled to the ground.

Ellis lay face-down, with his arms and legs extended, for 33 minutes until paramedics arrived at 7:58 p.m., carefully turned him over, strapped him to a backboard and wheeled him out of the Cannon Activities Center on a stretcher. Ellis’ only apparent movement during that time was some twitching in his right leg.

Ellis was taken to Castle Medical Center outside of Kailua, approximately 30 to 45 minutes away from the BYU-Hawaii campus.

Ridder said Ellis moved both arms and one leg while being strapped in for transport to the hospital and described him as conscious and speaking to teammates before being wheeled out, although players were not allowed to speak to the media directly.

The injury did not seem to be that serious initially. But as athletic trainer Tom Abdenour attended to Ellis, alarm over the situation grew. Abdenour could be seen stroking Ellis’ right arm, as though to check if the 21-year-old from Lanier High in Jackson, Miss., could feel his touch.

Concerned teammates stood around in a ragged circle until coaches instructed them to shoot free throws, presumably hoping to restore some normalcy to the situation. Team captain Baron Davis lay alongside Ellis for several minutes to offer comfort.

Ellis, who turns 22 in three weeks, is making $770,610 this season as he reaches the end of a three-year deal he signed following his selection in the second round (40 th overall) of the 2005 NBA draft. The expectation around the league has been that he will receive a significant raise — either from the Warriors or another team — as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Ellis has a history of being able to bounce back from seemingly serious injuries. Ellis collided with Heat forward James Posey in a game in Miami on Dec. 23 and stayed down, nearly motionless, for several minutes before getting up and gingerly walking off the court. X-rays and an MRI were negative, and he ended up missing only five games.

During summer-league play last year, Ellis had to leave the arena on crutches after his right leg gave way underneath him. But that turned out to be nothing more serious than a sprained knee.

However, Ellis did have to pass on an invitation to serve on the scrimmage squad against Team USA this summer due to a back injury that forced him to stop working out for the better part of a month. Ellis chalked it up to a congenital problem and said that it was “nothing serious, nothing life-threatening, It ain’t gonna jeopardize my career.”

Contact Geoff Lepper at glepper@bayareanewsgroup.com

Marcus Thompson