Before I get to today’s practice, it is a must I cover the happenings at last night’s game, and there were plenty. Well, one thing. The love triangle between Monta, Crawford and Nellie.
First, the pre-game. Nellie drops two bombs, one of them a repeat. First, he re-iterated, emphatically, that Ellis’ ankle was bothering him (rebutting Ellis’ statement that his ankle was never bothering him).
Nelson: “Monta complained three different times that he had soreness in his ankle. So he missed five games or some number of games and then he was supposed to see a doctor and come back. Then he went to visit his mother. I don’t know what’s happened. That’s fact. There was pain in his ankle or stiffness or something. Or he would have continued to play, would he not? You need to talk to him to get what he says. I’m telling you what was. That’s the reason.”
After getting that off his chest, Nelson went on to address the Crawford ultimatum, which he previously declined to do.
Nellie: “Sure, now that it’s public. It was a private conversation. It didn’t come from me. There are only two people involved, so it’s either he or his friends that broke the story. Not me. I don’t mind a story getting out as long as it’s a true story and that’s a true one. We did meet. I did tell him. I’ve always been very open and honest with my players and I did tell him he probably would either opt out or we would move him next year. That’s a fact and I just don’t see that that’s going to work. I’m loaded in the back court. If I’m going to move Jackson into the backcourt now I’m really overloaded. I think he’s too good a player to be a 10 or 15 minute player, as a backup player. Wherever Jack plays there’s not many minutes left. Wherever Monta plays, when he’s healthy, there won’t be very many minutes left. Those positions should be backed up by somebody making less than 8 or 9 — or whatever his contract is — million dollars a year. so he makes too much money as a backup player so being open and honest with my player I don’t know if it’s criticism or what but that’s the way it is. I’m that way with all my players all the time. I get criticized sometimes for it. So be it.”
OK, then the game happens. Ellis plays by what most everyone conceded was among his best of the season (not that such was hard to do). The Nets led by as much as 14 before Monta sparked a comeback in the third quarter. He finished with 19 points and six assists in 31 minutes. Again, not the star we saw last season, but certainly an encouraging step forward – especially after missing seven games.
So Nelson took this opportunity to spray some freshener on the whole Ellis situation, right? He went into one of those praise-heaping soliloquies about Monta’s performance, right? Wrong.
Not only did he sit Monta the entire fourth quarter, but Nellie seemed to go out of his way to temper the excitement about Ellis’ return.
Nelson: “I thought he was all right. He looked a little rusty, but he hadn’t played for a while. But I thought he was ok.”
So, Crawford, who Nelson all but said he doesn’t want around anymore, wound up running the point in the fourth quarter (though Nellie said Ellis would be the full-time point guard). Jamal, who started 1-for-8, wound up taking over the fourth, scoring 15 of his 19.
Nellie’s response was noticeably more favorable than for Ellis. (Hint: notice the last line)
Nelson: “He did most of his damage when he was running the point. I’m glad I stayed with him because he was struggling the first three quarters. He’s been with us for (45) games so the plays are run a little bit better.”
Makes you wonder what is this all about. IMHO, it is much more than what it looks like on the surface. Why won’t Nellie deliver the gem about Ellis for the next day’s papers, so everything could look rosey in Warriors’ land for at least a day? How does Monta feel about sitting out the entire fourth quarter (he said “we got the win, that’s what matters”), especially in such a tight game?
On to Thursday …
Not much happened. Everybody was at practice, though Jackson’s participation was limited. He has a sore left big toe. Belinelli, who also has toe issues, practiced. He is listed as questionable.
Wright practiced for the second time. He said he is ready to go. He will see how he feels Friday and talk to Nellie. He’s unofficially a game-time decision.
Wright: “That’s the word on the street, I guess. I definitely want to play.”
Oh, yeah. Got a shot of the new Monta Ellis bobbleheads.