Tag: Rick Welts

New York Knicks v Golden State Warriors

Warriors claim relationship between Ellis, accuser consensual


The Golden State Warriors have responded to the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the franchise and star player Monta Ellis by a former team employee.

Warriors CEO Rick Welts sent a statement to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. Here are the money graphs.

“When we were made aware of a consensual relationship between Mr. Ellis and the Plaintiff, we did what an organization should do. We told both to stop – promptly, directly and fairly. The Warriors have never taken any action against the Plaintiff for any inappropriate reason, and we deny the allegations she is making.

We live in a litigious society in which lawsuits too frequently are driven by money and not the pursuit of justice. We will vigorously defend the reputation of the Warriors organization in the courts. We don’t plan to make any further comment about the details of the case.”

Interesting that the Warriors do not deny there was something going on, only the circumstances. Erika Ross Smith, the Warriors former director of community relations, denies that it was consensual in her lawsuit. She claims that Ellis made unwanted advances, specifically sending sexual text messages including photographs of his genitals.

Monta Ellis was married at the time this affair took place. That is not a criminal charge, but it certainly doesn’t make Ellis a sympathetic figure in all this.

I’m not going to pretend to know who is telling the truth here, but it is safe to say that this will get uglier for the Warriors organization before it gets better. This could become quite salacious.

Former Suns CEO Rick Welts takes job with Warriors

Rick Welts
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Just a couple weeks ago, Rick Welts walked away from his gig as the CEO of the Phoenix Suns, saying he wasn’t leaving for another job, he was leaving to “get my personal and professional lives better aligned.”

Turns out he found a job pretty quickly after all.

Welts has been hired as the new CEO of the Golden State Warriors, as reported to CSNBayArea.com.

“Peter Guber and I have made it quite clear since we assumed control of this team in November that we’re looking to build a world class organization from top to bottom,” said Warriors owner Joe Lacob (in a released statement).

“We feel that we’ve taken a quantum leap in that direction today with the addition of Rick Welts as our President and COO. Rick is simply one of the most highly-regarded executives in the NBA and his accomplishments at both the team and league levels are extremely impressive.”

Don’t think that the Suns are mad about this — Suns owner Robert Sarver was the guy who called the Warriors owners and told them to hire Welts.

You likely remember Welts as the executive who announced he was gay earlier this year. He is highly respected around the league and certainly got a few calls after he stepped down from the Suns. Hopefully this is a good fit for him.

He will be formally introduced on Tuesday.

Suns CEO Rick Welts steps down

Rick Welts

Usually it’s best when a team’s CEO doesn’t end up in the news, but the Suns Rick Welts made an exception earlier this year when he came out of the closet as a gay man. Doing that in the world of professional sports takes serious courage and it sparked a good debate about homosexuality in sports.

In a surprise, Welts has decided to step down from his job as CEO. His last day with the Suns will be Sept. 15. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic spoke with him.

Welts told The Arizona Republic Friday morning that he is not leaving for another job but to be in another city. In the past year, Welts started a new relationship and his partner is in Sacramento. He plans to do speaking engagements and perhaps take an offer to write a book.

“The most important thing for me is to get my personal and professional lives better aligned,” Welts said. “They’ve probably never been aligned. I’m 58 years old and it’s time to do that.

“This isn’t one of those departures to see greener pastures. It really is completely a personal situation. These guys have been tremendously accommodating and any other inference than that is absolutely crazy.”

This is a loss for the Suns, Welts is well respected around the NBA. But sometimes people do step down for personal reasons and not just use that as a shield when they are in trouble. That seems to be the case here. All we can do is wish Welts the best of luck with whatever he ends up doing next. And don’t worry, you can probably still get some Suns tickets at a fair price.

Cedric Ceballos buys piece of ABA team in Phoenix

Ball Up Celebrity Streetball Game

Cedric Ceballos is still in Arizona. No Lakers fans, not jet skiing on Lake Havasu, he lives there now. He’s the in-game MC for the Phoenix Suns. So, like the rest of us, he hopes to get back to his new job sooner rather than later.

But he’s picked up a side gig — he is now part owner of an ABA franchise.

He explained it to the Suns team Web site.

“I should’ve done it (a few years ago) just so I could’ve learned a little bit more,” Ceballos said. “After talking to and learning from (Suns President and CEO) Rick Welts, he encouraged me by saying that I should go and learn and get as much knowledge as I could.”

Ceballos actually played with some ABA teams after his NBA career wound down. He wants to get into the ownership side of the NBA business and this seemed like a good way to learn. He and Ron Tilly will co-own the Phoenix Scorpions, an expansion team in the ABA. The ABA itself is one of the minor professional basketball leagues in the United States (a step or two below the D-League). Still, it’s a good place to learn.

‘I think that you would need somebody that has a proper basketball background,” Ceballos said. “All of the help I’ve been getting over the years with (Suns Managing Partner Robert) Sarver and (Suns Chairman Jerry) Colangelo letting me into the office, and just learning and being taught under Rick Welts, motivated me to get involved and take my crack at it.”

Ceballos may have his hand in the only professional basketball in Phoenix this fall, but he will still be an employee of the Suns, hoping to be working there again soon also.

Trading Nash might be bad business for Phoenix

Steve Nash

The basic team building model in the NBA has been pretty easy to understand — you’re either a contending team or building to get there, and if you’re a contending team whose championship window has closed you blow it up and start over with young players. It takes a few years (maybe more than a few) but you rebuild.

The Phoenix Suns are not contenders. But they are not blowing it up and trading away Steve Nash, either.

And there are reasons for that, team executives told the Arizona Republic (via Valley of the Suns). Sound business reasons.

From a business perspective, however, there is no debate. Trading Nash would be disastrous. This isn’t Green Bay, Pittsburgh or Boston. Irrelevance here is a death sentence.

“Phoenix can be a tough market,” (Suns President Rick) Welts said….

Welts said that (team GM Lon) Babby, in his first year with the franchise, was amazed by the negative reaction to the Suns’ 40-42 record this past season.

“For a lot of markets that’s a really successful team,” Welts said. “But the success we’ve had comes with higher standards in terms of people’s expectations. There’s more anxiety when the team isn’t solidly winning more than half of its games. Does it factor in for us? It does. Historically we’ve never torn down this team to build it back up again. Some people will say that’s the reason we’ve never won a championship.”

Suns officials ran the numbers and it showed that when a team blew up its core after reaching the conference finals it took about a decade to get back. (Over at The Point Forward, Zach Lowe took a longer look at that.) That is a long down time in a market where most of the people are transplants with loyalty to a team from back home. They’ll come watch the Suns if the Suns are good, but when they are bad they stay away. The Suns can’t afford that.

All of which is to say, you think it would be the right thing for the Suns to trade Nash, to do so now and get young players and picks to start rebuilding. But the Suns don’t see it that way at all.

Of course, their other risk is that Nash just walks away after his contract is up in the summer of 2012 and they get nothing. But don’t look for them to trade him soon, it would be bad business.