The tenure of Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis came to an abrupt end Tuesday.
Hours before tip-off against the rival Sacramento Kings, the Warriors agreed in principle to trade Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks, along with second-year big man Ekpe Udoh and the expiring contract of injured center Kwame Brown.
“It’s not a bad thing,” Ellis said as he got dressed to leave. “Not a bad thing at all.”
In exchange, the Warriors get Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut, potentially quenching the franchise’s thirst for a big man. Golden State also gets swingman Stephen Jackson, who helped choreograph the We Believe playoff run in 2007 before leaving the franchise on bad terms in November 2009.
The news left the Warriors locker room stunned. Several players, choosing not to comment on the record, expressed displeasure at the move. Udoh, after going through pre-game warm-ups, found out while watching the television in the locker room.
“I really don’t want to talk about it,” he said to the media. “Thanks.”
Besides losing their best player, one of the primary concerns among the players was the remainder of the season. The Warriors are just three games back of a playoff spot and, after two straight victories over winning teams, were feeling good about their chances.
But not only did the Warriors lose two of their best players, they get back a player who is injured. Bogut is not expected back before April thanks to a fractured left ankle.
“So we’re giving up on the season?” one player asked.
The deal is not yet official. Co-owner Joe Lacob, general manager Larry Riley and assistant general manager Bob Myers are all at Power Balance Pavilion for the game. They all declined to comment.
One team source said the Warriors were urged to pull the trigger by Ellis’ public comments to Bay Area News Group earlier Tuesday. After shootaround, Ellis expressed disappointment in management’s ability to improve the roster.
“I probably could go to Orlando or Chicago and get a championship,” Ellis said after the Tuesday morning shootaround. “But if they don’t move me, what can I do? Hopefully – if they don’t move me _ they get somebody in here so we can win and I don’t have to go through this every year.”
The source said Ellis for days had been barking privately about wanting out, expressing his frustrations “” especially after the Warriors nixed a deal that would have sent him to Orlando with big man Dwight Howard.
So it makes sense why Ellis didn’t seem the least bit bothered by Tuesday’s developments. He even said he was prepared for it, pointing to “a feeling” he had Tuesday.
“It is what it is, man,” Ellis said. “I had some great years here, and I had some bad ones. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to do what I did for seven years here. I started my career here, but they’re going in another direction.”
Well, there is one detail Ellis may have had an issue with.
“I knew they wouldn’t send me to a playoff team.”
Ellis was sitting in his chair in the visiting locker room when he got a call – after he learned of the trade on television. He ducked into the training area of the locker room to take the call. There, the Warriors held a team meeting and Ellis got a chance to talk with his now-former-teammates.
“Everybody is upset, but this is what happens. This is part of the league. I wish them the best. Now, I’m going to go help the Bucks win.”