Monta Ellis’ name has popped up in trade rumors over the last few weeks, and some have been wondering if the Warriors have been shopping Ellis, who has been putting up huge numbers over the last two seasons while leading the Warriors to little success.
However, in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe, Warriors general manager Larry Riley maintained that the team is not trying to shop Ellis:
“We are not shopping Monta Ellis. It is business as usual here. I think you have to look at what just happened in the Finals — it seemed like Dallas played pretty small guards throughout that series with Miami and did a pretty good job of it. Our problem is not the small backcourt. Our problem is defense.”
That’s an interesting statement, because the Warriors’ “small backcourt,” specifically Ellis, is one of the major reasons why defense has been such a problem for the Warriors, perhaps even the main reason. Ellis is a very talented scorer, but by all accounts he does not play defense, and the numbers show that the Warriors got much, much worse defensively when he was on the floor last season.
New coaches Mark Jackson and Mike Malone might be able to get Ellis to buy in to some kind of defensive system that can make use of his speed and willingness to gamble for steals, but right now it seems hard to believe that Ellis can be effective when he’s not surrounded by players that can cover for him on defense, which Steph Curry, Dorell Wright, and David Le cannot do. I encourage you to read the rest of the interview, which includes Riley’s thoughts on the team’s defense, new coach Mark Jackson, and the once-promising Andris Biedrins.