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Monta Ellis – Stay or Go?

The Warriors are going to take inventory this offseason, see what moves they need to make and how they can get better. Over the next few weeks, we are going to do some evaluating ourselves. Here is your chance to give them your opinion (yes, they do read this blog). I will make the best case I can as to why a player should stay or go this offseason. Then you sound off. He’s the hot topic right now so …


Thanks due to Tony.psd for the hot graphic


THE CASE FOR MONTA ELLIS TO STAY

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All in, or wait for the next hand?

I said it in my All-Star break summation, but it bears repeating: The Warriors haven’t been this close to the No. 1 seed in the West, this late in the season, since 1992. And ’91-’92 was their most successful season since ’75-’76, when they won a franchise-record 59 games.

So this appears to potentially be a once-every-16-years burst of greatness for the Warriors.

But will they make a deal to put themselves over the top before the trade deadline at noon on Thursday?

Now, no one’s banged the drum of “fiscal responsibility” over the last year harder than I have. Ever since the Indiana trade, I’ve said that the Warriors were saving their pennies for this summer, when they have to pay off Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins, and that they weren’t going to screw that up by taking on any deals that go beyond ’07-‘08.

That viewpoint is not just supposition. I’ve listened to Bobby Rowell say that the Warriors are simply not going to watch young talent like Ellis and Biedrins walk away over salary-cap/luxury-tax issues. I’ve had Chris Mullin tell me that if his team didn’t already feature Ellis and Biedrins, they’d be the exact kind of players for which he’d be scouring the league. I know the team won’t seriously consider taking on a contract unless it involves bringing in a player who’s going to push them to the Western Conference Finals or beyond.

I know all of that. But they’re so close to the top. So very close. These are the kind of heights that make men dizzy. And could lead to carefully laid plans getting thrown out the window.

If the Warriors were bumping around .500, lying 10, 11, 12 games off the pace of the No. 1 team, then the level of talent needed from an incoming player to push Golden State to the WCF would be on the order of a Kevin Garnett or Dirk Nowitzki.

Yet by posting the best record in the West since Nov. 15 (i.e., after the Jaxless 0-6 start), the definition of such a “difference-maker” becomes more elastic. Now, a guy like Memphis’ Mike Miller could conceivably be enough to get the job done. Miller, who is due $9 million next season and $9.75 in ’09-’10, is not without flaws (Defense? What is this “defense” of which you speak?). But he would be a pure shooter with unlimited range on a team that currently lacks one of those, yet still takes the most 3-pointers, by far, of any NBA squad.

Miller, however, appears to be one of those guys (like Milwaukee forward Charlie Villanueva, Marcus’ favorite pick) who will be dealt only if the acquiring team is willing to take a bad contract back (in Miller’s case, it’s the $13.05 million owed to Brian Cardinal over the next two seasons; for Villanueva, the tax is Bobby Simmons’ $20.5 million over two years).

I think the Warriors would seriously consider shipping out a package that includes players and/or a No. 1 draft pick in return for a second-tier “difference maker.” I think there’s basically no chance they’re going to take on a contract of the sort that Cardinal and Simmons have in order to get that guy.

Whatever the case, it’ll be fascinating to see how it all shakes out — not just for the Warriors, but the West as a whole.

– Geoff

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Ellis day-to-day with sprained finger

Just got an update from the Warriors: Monta Ellis underwent an MRI exam Saturday — when veterans were not made available to the media because there was no official practice — on his the ring finger of his left hand. We’re told he caught the finger in an opponent’s jersey late in Friday’s game against the Nuggets.

While the MRI showed no break, there is some pain there and the team is calling it a sprain. (It sounds similar to what Matt Barnes has been playing through. He’s got a fracture in a similar spot on one hand and a sprained finger on the other.)

In any case, Ellis is being listed as a day-to-day proposition and his status for tonight’s game in Denver is questionable. Privately, the Nuggets were not terribly impressed with Ellis’ performance on Friday, so I’m sure he’d like to go tonight in search of some revenge.

– Geoff

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Monta’s magic mid-range

As Monta Ellis took two quick-step dribbles and pulled up to drain another 18-foot jumper, you couldn’t help but wonder if somewhere in Mississippi, a former high-school opponent of Ellis’ was yelling at his TV, trying to tell New Jersey’s Richard Jefferson — or Minnesota’s Sebastian Telfair, or Cleveland’s Daniel Gibson — “Now you know how I felt!”

That’s how dominant Ellis has looked lately with his mid-range game. My Dean Mob colleagues Glenn Reeves and Adam Lauridsen have already covered this ground, but it bears repeating, especially because it was the topic of the day at practice this afternoon: Ellis is just killing people from 15 to 20 feet.

I asked Ellis if he thought the guys he used to torment in the Jackson Public Schools league could commiserate with Jefferson, Telfair or Gibson.

“Anybody that really knows me, and knows basketball in Mississippi, they’re not surprised at all,” Ellis said.

And as for the scoring (24.0 points per game) and field-goal percentage (59.7 percent) over the Warriors’ last five games, Ellis deferred the credit to the guys working with him in pick-and-roll situations, such as center Andris Biedrins.

“Him, BD, Al (Harrington), everybody who comes and sets a screen sets it so good I have that shot open all the time,” Ellis said. “The gap is so big, you don’t have a choice but to take that shot. And that’s my shot. It just takes the concentration and confidence to knock it down. . . . If you look at it, it ain’t nothing but the high school 3-point line. That’s it.”

That’s important, because Ellis — a career 29.1 percent shooter from distance — has stopped jacking up treys, averaging just over one per game. That’s a almost 50 percent decrease over the previous two seasons.

“Our team, we’ve got a lot of great 3-point shooters,” Ellis said. “They don’t need for me to shoot the 3 when I’ve got the ability to get past the guy and go to the basket and finish. That just allows me (to take) an 18-20 foot jump shot or get to the basket. That’s it. I get my 3-point plays like that.”

It doesn’t hurt that Ellis is showing simply phenomenal quickness with the ball right now.

“I think Monta’s the fastest guy in the league on the open floor,” Warriors forward Matt Barnes said. “Tony Parker is fast, and there’s a couple other guys that are fast, but in the open court, (Ellis) will start at half-court and he’ll beat someone from the free-throw line to the basket. He’s a hard guy to cover.”

Nevertheless, teams have got to find a way to stop Ellis if they want to derail a Warriors team that has won 17 of 23. Are double-teams the answer? Or will they come up with some other plan?

“They might (double-team), and when they do, trust me, we’ve got a counter for it,” Ellis said. “I can’t let you know what the secret is, but we’ve got a counter for it. We watch film just like they watch film.”

– Geoff