UPDATE 4:01 pm: This experiment is over: According to the twitter account of Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area (and you should believe everything you read on twitter) Monta Ellis participated in shoot around and is a go for tonight against the Trail Blazers.
2:25 pm: When Monta Ellis went down with an injury after playing 43 minutes and shooting 6-22 from the field against the Denver Nuggets, some people thought that the Warriors might actually play better without Ellis in the lineup. Ellis has been the leading scorer for the Warriors this season, but he has used a lot of shots and turned the ball over many times on his way to getting his points. According to 82games.com, the Warriors have played much, much better during the brief periods Ellis has sat this season. Of course, as Ellis almost never sits, there was no way to know how the Warriors would play if Ellis actually started missing entire games.
With Ellis sidelined for the last six games, the Warriors got a chance to see how well they could do with other players replacing Ellis 22 shot attempts per game. Things could’ve gone better. The Warriors beat the Pistons at Oracle to win their first game playing without Ellis, but have subsequently gone 0-5 on their road trip.
The problem with the Warriors during their current losing streak has been their defense. The Warriors held the Pistons to 88 points during their first game without Ellis; since then, they have given up 100 points in all five of their losses, and the only team who failed to score 110 or more was the Charlotte Bobcats.
It’s hard to evaluate whether or not the Warriors have played better without Ellis, since the Warriors are so bad they could easily have been playing better and still losing, especially on the road. In the 11 games the Warriors have played without Ellis this season, they have won all three games they played at home and lost all eight of the games they have played on the road. There are a myriad of reasons why the Warriors have lost so much this season. It doesn’t look like the play of Monta Ellis has been the biggest one.
League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant
Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.
However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.
“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”
“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”
One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.
“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”
Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.
But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.