Monta's Happiness Should Be Top Priority

I am this close to giving up the Warriors. Not as full-fledged competitive basketball -- that ship sailed a long, long time ago -- but as a team you follow because the future might be brewing there. Coach Don Nelson has already famously started benching his veteran core, presumably to give playing time to the likes of Monta Ellis and Anthony Randolph. Eccentric, but intelligible. Now, from today's Contra Costa Times, there's news that Monta might not be totally cool with things in Oaktown: ↵
↵⇥*He skipped the team photo shoot, which took place on Friday before the game (those type of things are always pet peeves of management) ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥*When Monta left, he took a lot of luggage. So much that some thought he had planned to be gone much longer than a few days. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥*Ellis has been showing several signs of discontent lately. He, at times hasn’t taken part in huddles. He’s been late to shootarounds and practices without so much as an excuse. He’s been known to mumble - during moments of frustration on the court, like when he was taken out late in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma City and didn’t return - that the Warriors need to trade him. ↵
↵Further evidence of the tension between Nelson and the front office: it's yet to rule out a contract termination for his off-season moped injury. Or does Monta have problems with Nelson, too? As the Times points out, "Nellie’s got a quicker trigger with him. His ankle stiffens up. IMHO, Ellis has a lot to be unhappy about." So if Golden State is trying to develop younger players, it had best get management and its coach on the same page about making its brightest young option feel wanted. As much as I love Anthony Randolph, Monta's the more potent player right now, and it's the combination of the two of them -- not the Randolph freak show + a disgruntled Ellis -- that gives them any semblance of direction for the future. ↵
↵
↵In other hair-brained Warriors news, the Mercury News suggests that Nellie's diabolical plan may just be one big charade, albeit one that still relates to Monta: ↵
↵⇥Stephen Jackson was benched in the next game, just to make it look like Nelson wasn't singling out Crawford. And the bench-a-vet policy abruptly stopped there. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥Will Crawford take Nelson up on the suggestion? In this NBA economy, it's hard to see Crawford giving up almost $20 million in guaranteed money, and even harder to see how he'd get heavy interest when his own coach is leading the downgrade in value. ↵
↵Make no mistake, less Crawford means more Monta, and in Nelson's world, probably more Randolph (somehow). But if this is just one big maneuver to make Crawford feel unwanted, and the players know it, you can see how Ellis might still be fuming -- even if, on public records, the rest of the season has been geared around making sure he's ready to make an impact next season.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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