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Warriors Checking Ellis’ Story

No one really knows the details around Monta Ellis’ ankle injury, other than he hurt it working out. That has the Warriors a bit worried, according to sources. They are checking out his story behind the scenes.
Ellis told the Warriors last Thursday that he had injured his left ankle working out in Jackson, Miss. But as of Wednesday, the day of the surgery – which will have Ellis out for three months minimum – not even Chris Mullin knew exactly what happened. No he-landed-on-someone’s-ankle. No foot-got-stuck-changing-directions. Mullin’s only response was that “I was told he was working out in Jackson.”
Ellis’ injury was pretty bad, which has team officials, according to sources, question whether he actually sustained such an injury working out or playing pick-up. Ellis had surgery on Wednesday in Alabama to repair a torn deltoid ligament in his left ankle. He also sustained a severe high ankle sprain.
Of course, we have seen some bad injuries on the court (see: Shaun Livingston), so Ellis’ injury could have been a freak accident. His neck injury last summer in training camp was also similarly freaky, though the results were not as severe.
This is all important because Ellis just signed a six-year, $66 million contract late last month. If he was doing anything to violate the morality clause in his contract when he got hurt, the Warriors could go after his contract. They could also fine or suspend him.
The reality is, though, if Monta can regain his old form, it is unlikely they would void his contract because he would become a free agent and the relationship would be strained. But if he can’t play again, or this ankle ends up a long-term problem, they could look to get their money back.
To be sure, the same sources said Monta is expected to recover and everything to be fine in the end.

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Picking Up Another PG?

During his conference call with local media today, Chris Mullin (answering a question from my man Tim Kawakami) told reporters the Warriors will be going to look at Shaun Livingston in Chicago tomorrow. He said the workout was scheduled long before the Warriors learned starting point guard Monta Ellis would be out for three months after today’s knee surgery. Certainly, they will be looking on with much more intensity.
Mullin said as of this point, Marcus Williams is the starter. Which means C.J. Watson, who is non-guaranteed and needs to make the roster, is the No. 2. That’s music to Watson’s ears.
“I’m ready for the opportunity,” Watson said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I’m kinda sad that Monta got hurt. But this gives me an opportunity to prove myself to the coaches.”00
Watson had a positive summer league and a good showing at an ensuing popular Las Vegas camp, where he played on the same team as Williams and against the likes of Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Mike Conley Jr.
Watson is all but guaranteed a long hard look at camp now. He said the Warriors told his agent that he would get a chance to compete with Williams for the No. 2 spot. With Ellis hurt and Williams penciled in as the starter, Watson’s stiffest competition for the back-up job is perhaps Stephen Jackson. That is, unless the Warriors go out and get someone.
You all know I’m a fan of C.J. I love a point guard who can score. But I am also intrigued by Livingston, who is cheap and has a lot to prove. Should the Warriors get another point guard? Who would you want to pick-up? Or do you want to see Watson as the No. 2 on this young squad?

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Ellis Out ‘Til December

ESPN’s Marc Stein broke a story that Monta Ellis needs after injuring his left ankle working out in Jackson. It is definitely true. The Warriors are scurrying around preparing a release about it.
Ellis hurt his ankle on Thursday. The initial hopes was that it was a high ankle sprain. But it turns out he tore a ligament.
He had surgery this morning. The first six weeks he has to be off his ankle. Then the next six weeks he would be able to work on the side. That’s three months before he can get on the court and practice with the team. So it’s looking like mid-December, maybe even January, before Ellis is in the lineup. Then there’s the issue of him getting in game shape.
This was the blow the Warriors couldn’t afford.

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Warriors Release Preseason Sked

FINALLY!!!

Sunday, Oct. 5 at New Orleans, 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 8 at Portland, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 11 vs. Oklahoma City, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 15 vs. Milwaukee Bucks at Guangzhou Gymnasium (China), 5:00 a.m.

Friday, Oct. 17 vs. Milwaukee Bucks at Beijing Olympic Basketball Arena (China), 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 21 vs. Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania), 7:30 p.m.

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Warriors to China in October

I have confirmed that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is right. The Warriors are playing preseason games in China. Both games will be against the Bucks.
However, the Warriors aren’t releasing the schedule until Tuesday, per league command. I’m told the announcement of the preseason schedule for the teams that are playing games abroad were to be held until after the Olympics (Obviously, the MJ-S writer had some good connections). Everyone else was given license to release their schedule.
Expect the Warriors to put out their schedule tomorrow.

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You Had Questions, Jax Had Answers (Part II)

Sorry. It was just too long for one post, IMHO. Carry on …

Would you call the Warriors a soft defensive team? – Eastern Europe Warriors

“They were ‘til I got there.”

Win now or build for the future? – Mr. B

“Win now because tomorrow is not promised to nobody.”

MY FOLLOW-UP: Their offseason moves suggest the Warriors are building for the future. You happy with management’s direction?

“I’m definitely happy because we’re better than last year. Obviously when you have a season like we had and we didn’t make the playoffs, obviously the team needs to get better. We’ve made strides every year from the time I got her until now. The stuff that the management’s done this summer has done nothing but make the team better. As long as we keep going up and not going down, I can’t complain.”

Is Monta ready to be the spokesman for the team both in and out of the locker room? – Petaluman

“Vocal leader … That’s not his personality. That’s my personality. I think Monta’s ready to be the leader on the court as far as being the point guard. I think he’s ready for that role. But as far as the vocal leader, that’s not his personality.”

MY FOLLOW-UP: Can a team thrive without the point guard being the vocal leader?

“Yes. I can name a couple teams that was successful without vocal point guards. Dallas, the year they went to the NBA Finals. The Lakers. Rondo with Boston. Their vocal leaders were Paul and Kevin Garnett. So the vocal leaders don’t have to be the point guard, but at the same time, (point guards) have to be leaders on the floor. That’s what Rondo is. Rondo’s a leader on the floor.”

MY FOLLOW-UP TO MY FOLLOW-UP: What makes you think Monta is ready to play point considering he’s never done it at this level before?

“I’ve been with him all summer. That’s what he’s been doing all summer, working on his point guard skills. He’s naturally a scorer, but I think with the ball in his hands, it’s going to be good for us because we need him to score and we need the ball in his hands. Being a point guard will just come naturally. And not having B.D., he should embrace that role of knowing that he has to step up more. Monta is a competitor, he’s young and he’s happy now that he’s got his contract. So we should see a good year from him.”

As the veteran leader, what do you feel are your most important contributions? – Petaluman

“I have to be stronger this year. I know my minutes are going to be more. And I know that – if they can go up any more (laughs) – and I know my body is going to take more of a banging knowing that B.D.’s not going to be there. So I’ve got to get stronger, man, get mentally tough. It’s not anything I’m not prepared for. I’ve just got to get used to it.”

Favorite album of all time? – No Fillin

“Super Tight. UGK.”

How is your freestyle flow? – Thurston Hunger

“I’ve been contemplating doing an album. I really feel that I’m better than at least 30 … 40 percent of the rappers out now.”

Who from around the league would you put on your “ultimate teammate” starting five? – Thurston Hunger

“Starting point guard … I’mma say guys I played with. Point guard I’mma say Baron Davis. Two guard, I will say Manu Ginobili. Three guard, I would say Al Harrington. Four I would say Tim Duncan and five David Robinson. So it’s three from San Antonio. That’s a good team right there!”

How do you remain motivated and driven when you don’t know from one year to the next what team you’ll be on, who your teammates will be and what your role on the team will entail? – JustPuked

“I think that comes from your love for the game and not playing for yourself, but playing for your teammates. That’s how easy it is to stay committed and stay focused on the main goal, and that’s winning. If everybody on the team has the same idea, that winning is the only thing important, than it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Are you friends with Bun B (of rap group UGK, from Port Arthur)? – Dennis

“That’s my (play) uncle.”

Given the changes to the roster, what do you see as your role on offense this year and what can you do to bring the team together? – Phil

“Instead of going into the season with three captains, its one now. Instead of having another guy with balls to hit big shots, I’ve got to take more of the big shots now, which I love. As far as making plays, I was second in making plays on the team behind B.D. So I have to take more of a role in not only being a scorer but making plays for other guys, because that was a big thing that Baron did. Baron was close to getting a triple-double almost every night. I’mma have to pick up more assists. I just put it like this: I’m going to have to average five more points and about three more assists to make up what Baron did.”

MY FOLLOW-UP: How are you preparing for that increased role?

“I had less of a vacation this summer. I worked out a week after we loss. I went back to the Arena and worked out. I think total I took off about a month-and-a-half this summer. I’ve been working all summer. I played in Houston Monday, this tournament in Houston where all the pros play. I’ve never played in that. I went to a tournament with 36 teams in Louisiana. I did that this year. I hadn’t done that in three years. I just took less time off and took more time to work on what I need to work on because not having B.D. is going to take a lot of work and a lot of energy and I’ve just got to come in camp in better shape.”

Are you healthy? – Niners in 2009

“Yes. This is the first year in four years that my season was over early. I didn’t have to play (in the playoffs), so my body had time to heal. My injuries were nothing big where I needed surgery or anything. My injuries were all nagging injuries from the years and years of playing basketball. So I think I just needed the time off and I think it helped.”

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You Had Questions, Jax Had Answers (Part I)

I’m back from P.A.T. I sat down with Stephen Jackson and told him several bloggers sent me questions for him. He happily answered all of them, to my surprise.
Now I didn’t ask all of them, as I was under time constraints. Some questions were redundant and some of you were being greedy. But I asked most of them. Here is the transcript from YOUR interview with Stephen Jackson.

What would you like to be able to say about your basketball career and your life once you’ve reached the end of both and can reflect back on the journey? – Joe F

“I would like to be remembered as – professionally, as far as basketball wise – I want to be remembered as somebody who appreciated the game and gave 110 percent. As a person, I want to be remembered as a guy who didn’t forget where he came from and always put God and family first.”

How do you feel about having no future with your current team beyond your contract and very probably none beyond next summer? – ROWELL

“It’s something I always think about, but I feel real confident that I will have it soon. I will get something done soon, before the season starts.”

MY FOLLOW-UP: Does it bother you being the Warriors’ fifth highest-paid player?

“It’s definitely something that has to be addressed because of what I do for this team and what I’ve done since I’ve been here, bringing this team from one of the bottom teams in the league to a playoff team, to a team that won 49 games. It’s not what I want, it’s what I deserve. So in the position I’m in now, being the fifth-highest paid player, I feel like from the conversations I’ve had with the team is that it won’t be like that once the season starts. So even if I have to play my two years out and my extension comes two years after that, I’m happy with that. But I won’t be comfortable going into this season knowing I have to play this whole season being the fifth-highest paid. I would not be happy. But I don’t think that situation will occur. I think things will be taken care of before the season started.”

Did you ask to be traded? – ROWELL

“No. I have no idea where that came from.”

How will the identity of the Warriors change without last year’s leading scorer, leader and late-game shot-taker? – Haastheman

“Not only did we lose Baron, a great player, but we have a better team now. Instead of relying on one guy to do what Baron did, we have two or three guys who can fill that void. It’s going to be different not having him because Baron’s a celebrity, All-Star – He’s B. Diddy. There’s only one B. Diddy. But we’ve got a lot of guys to make up for it, but he’s definitely going to be missed.”

How did Baron affect your basketball career and life? – WarriOR FAN

“Losing B.D. always hurt me. That’s my boy – my brother more than my teammate.”

“He made my job easier. Having a guy like Baron, that’s less work I have to do. Baron, he takes up so much attention on the court and its easy for me to do my job. I think with Baron out there, I didn’t have to take on one of those roles of scoring and guarding every body. Now my role is probably like that now. But with Baron, a lot of the scoring load was taken off me because he’s such a great scorer. And he controlled the team and he was good at doing that.”

How many of those high-profile millionaire foundations are sustainable and how do you know yours will be truly successful? – Sad Jose

“A lot of people do foundations not from their heart. They do it because they feel it’s the right thing to do. I’m not doing a foundation ‘cause it’s the right thing to do. I’m doing a foundation because I know this foundation is going to help my city as well as help the youth in my city, and that’s my aim. That’s the only reason I’m doing the foundation ‘cause it’s a way I can give back to my city without coming out of my pocket and we’re doing it the right way with raising money. Any time someone is raising money for something , people will appreciate it more.”

At this point in your life, if you were given the choice to quit the NBA for $65 million or stay in the NBA for three million a year for the rest of his career, what would you choose? – Dub Sauce

“I’ll take the 65 and walk away. I only have, if God say the same, six or seven years left. That don’t add up to 65. From a business standpoint, I would be stupid not to take the 65. But at the same time, I love the game of basketball. Even when I retire, I’m gone play. But that’s a no-brainer.”

Has there been other “works” that have not been covered by the media or that the general public doesn’t know about? Or basically is this all for show? – Tru Warier

“It’s a lot of things I do. Before last year, I did a feed the homeless for Thanksgiving time, two years in a row. Me and Marquise Daniels did that event in Indiana. We fed 500 homeless people every Thanksgiving. That never got on the news. I come home and I get free backpacks and back-to-school stuff and do a back-to-school drive every year. This is my third year doing that. That don’t get publicized. It’s a lot of stuff. But like I say, I don’t do it for it to get noticed. I do it for the people that need it and they appreciate it more than anybody.”

Does seeing the affect that humility has had on the Olympic team make him question his own mindset when part of the Warriors? – Dan

“I feel like I should be out there. I really don’t feel like they picked the best players for the thing. I think they picked the guys that they feel like are the best role models in the NBA. Which is cool. But I don’t think they’re the best players. I think its guys who are gonna represent the NBA the best. And I understand that, because in the Olympics, you gotta have shooters to play that Euro style of game. That’s why the Euro teams are always successful because its their style. But I think anytime you have Kobe, Carmelo and LeBron on the same team, it’s impossible to lose. So, I think its great that they can put all their egos aside and play together because its good for the world to see. I know I enjoy watching them play.”

MY FOLLOW-UP: How would such a mentality impact the NBA?

“If guys can put their egos aside and play basketball, it shows they appreciate the game and they’re not just in it for the money. Obviously, everybody wants to get taken care of. But I know guys like me, the reason why I made it to the NBA is not only because I was blessed, but I take pride in the game. I love what I do. And if more guys looked at the game like that as far as loving the game and having a passion for it, there would be less egos.”

Have you heard a better sports quote than your own: “I make love to pressure”? – Daovis

“No. That’s the best. I know, especially being a man, every man thinks he’s the best love maker in the world. So when I feel like I’m in pressure. I caress it. I don’t buckle, I enjoy it. I enjoy being under pressure. That’s what I meant when I say it. I don’t think there’s a better saying than that. If someone can put handling pressure better than that, than I need to hear it.”

Do you honestly think this current team can make the playoffs and what does this team need to do to make the playoffs? – Commish

“First of all, I wouldn’t be a captain of the team saying we’re not going to make it. I shouldn’t even be on this team. I definitely think we’re going to make it. And the reason why is because not only did we lose an All-Star, but we got better as a team. We know we won 49 games and we’re a better team, so I definitely think we’re going to make the playoffs. And what its going to take to do that is guys putting their egos aside, everybody coming together and not worrying about who’s getting the praise for winning, not worrying about who’s making the All-Star game, not worrying about whose going to get Sixth Man or MVP. Just worrying about making it to the playoffs and playing for each other. Playing for Nellie, it’s easy to go out there and just play basketball because of the style he plays. We just need to go out there and play basketball, rely on each other, be on the same page and we’ll be all right because we’ve got everything we need.”

If you could change anything about your past in regards to basketball, what would it be and why? – Eastern Europe Warriors

“I don’t regret leaving San Antonio because I felt like that was the road I had to go down. There’s one thing I do regret – that’s not going to college. Because I missed out on a national championship my freshman year. I was supposed to go to Arizona and they won a national championship my freshman year. And there were some things that I wasn’t ready for when I got to the NBA as far as being mentally prepared. There’s a lot of stuff I could’ve learned in school that would’ve helped me grow and be mentally prepared for the NBA and paying bills and stuff like that. So I do regret not going to college. But as far as getting cut by teams, not staying in San Antonio, getting in trouble at the strip clubs, getting in the fight in Detroit – I don’t regret none of that because that made me the person I am today.”