Warriors GM Riley downplays Jerry West's assessment of team
OAKLAND, Calif. -- When Jerry West signed on with Golden State as a consultant on May 20, it seemed his presence might change the mentality as it related to shooting guard Monta Ellis.
West almost immediately began discussing the benefits of a big backcourt as part of his vision for his new team while emphasizing the need to take risks as a route to building a contender, and the understandable assumption was that it was a clear sign the 6-foot-3 Ellis might be on his way out. Whether it was in exchange for a bigger perimeter player or for someone who could provide the low-post presence the Warriors so badly need, Ellis was being seen as a trade chip again.
Reports surfaced soon thereafter about possible Ellis discussions, among them a deal that could send him to Philadelphia in exchange for defensive-minded small forward Andre Iguodala. But in a meeting with media members on Monday, Golden State general manager Larry Riley reiterated his stance that he is not actively shopping Ellis and said it is unlikely he will be dealt anytime soon.
"It's very likely that he will not be traded on draft night or even through the summer," Riley said. "I'm not looking at that happening. It would take something that I don't see for that to happen."
Riley shed light on the nature and frequency of the trade discussions as well, and refuted a recent report that there were Ellis-related
"Nobody is saying, 'What will it take to get Monta Ellis?'" said Riley, who also indicated that calls for young guard Stephen Curry far outweigh those for Ellis. "And we're in a situation where the calls are no more than they normally are right around the trade deadline and right around here.
"Let's face it: I like Monta, [new coach] Mark Jackson likes Monta and [new owner] Joe Lacob likes Monta. I just [think] this is one of those things where there have been at least two stories that were absolute fabrications. Some of those things that are coming out are even an insult to the people on the other side... [They've had] mild inquiries where people would rather try to steal him because they think that his name is out there."
But that said, the Warriors are well aware that trading Ellis is one of the few ways they will be able to add balance to their roster. And while Riley clearly isn't desperate to move the six-year guard, he did go out of his way to emphasize his view that Ellis' contract -- which pays him a combined $33 million for the next three seasons, with an early termination option for the 2013-14 campaign -- is reasonable when compared to his production. Ellis averaged 24.1 points in a league-leading 40.3 minutes per game last season and is averaging 19.4 points per game over his career.
"Monta Ellis' contract was a well-written contract," Riley said. "He's worth his money. People do look at money, but he's under a good contract. Say what you want to, [but] you look at those things and place value per productivity, [and] he's got a good one."
The Warriors have gone 91-155 in the last three seasons, although they improved by 10 games last season (26 to 36) under coach Keith Smart before he was not re-signed. Jackson made it immediately clear when he was hired on June 6 that he saw Ellis as part of the future, but Riley contested the notion that the coach's view slowed any swell of support for moving Ellis that might have grown because of West.
"I think [West's view] was an overstated thing," Riley said. "Those things take on a life of their own, and I think it was overstated. I think Mark solidified our positions as to where we are with Monta. That's true. But there wasn't a turn because it was never headed in that direction."