Warriors coach Don Nelson and GM Larry Riley flew to Memphis recently for a damage-control meeting with Monta Ellis. The message? Golden State isn’t looking to trade Ellis, whom they signed to a six-year, $66 million extension last summer. Instead, they wanted to tell Ellis in person that they intend to make him a captain and build around him.
It was a tumultuous year for Ellis and the Warriors, who threatened to void Ellis’ contract over an offseason moped accident that resulted in a 30-game suspension costing Ellis about $3 million. In April, Golden State officials sent a letter to Ellis’ agent, Jeff Fried, relinquishing their rights to void the contract. That ended one controversy but left another one still brewing.
Ellis’ strongest supporter in the Golden State front office was former GM Chris Mullin, who has been told he is not wanted back after his contract expires June 30. Mullin has avoided official contact with any potential suitors until the contract expires. But Ellis’ concern about his standing with the franchise in Mullin’s absence needed to be addressed. So Nelson and Riley flew to Memphis, where Ellis has been with his first son – Monta Jr. – who was born June 5.
“The GM and the coach traveled to Memphis to further provide that assurance to Monta that this is his team and they’re looking to build this team around him for years to come,” Fried said in a phone interview Friday. “Monta’s response to them was that the most important component is winning. He wants to win and he wants to win with the Warriors.”
Golden State has the seventh pick in next Thursday’s draft and is deeply involved in trade talks involving the pick. But those talks, evidently, will not involve Ellis.