Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson is happy the team traded Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks last March in a deal that brought Andrew Bogut to the Bay Area. There have been plenty of tangible benefits to the move for Golden State, but Jackson preferred to keep things simple when asked to reflect on the transaction, via Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, on Sulia:
"It helped change the culture. Obviously it was easier to pull the trigger because we knew what we had in Klay and it was time for him to be a starting two-guard. And he does everything right."
How did that trade change the culture? Jackson paused four seconds.
"It helped change the culture," he finally said.
Yeah, we know.
Klay Thompson and Monta Ellis are certainly in the news for different reasons these days. Thompson stole the show on Wednesday night when he scored a career-high 34 points, hit eight-of-nine three-point attempts and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Warriors to a Game 2 win over the Spurs. Ellis finished up his least efficient season (49.3 percent true shooting) since his rookie year (48.6 percent true shooting) and played even worse during the playoffs. He also reportedly got involved in a verbal altercation with Larry Sanders, who essentially called out Ellis and Brandon Jennings for selfish play.
Ellis played hard for the Bucks this season and is generally well-liked in the organization, so it's not as if he's a bad influence. However, his approach on the floor can be damaging. Monta's penchant for mid-range jump shots and low-percentage looks drag down the offensive efficiency of his teams, and replacing his production with a proficient three-point shooter like Thompson has helped Stephen Curry thrive this year. Furthermore, it has given Curry space to grow as the team's offensive leader, which was a concern when Ellis was still around.
Bogut has been a boon for the Warriors as well. The big man missed the end of last season as he recovered from ankle surgery, but that actually allowed the team to slip down in the draft lottery, retain its pick and select Harrison Barnes at No. 7 overall. Bogut returned this year to work through restrictions on the floor, and now he's impacting games on the defensive end in high-level playoff games against one of the NBA's top teams. Meanwhile, Ellis is busy deciding whether he will exercise his $11 million player option for the 2013-14 season.
It's hard to argue with Jackson's assessment. Things have changed for the better with the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Bucks will spend the summer searching for a new head coach and a new plan.