Believe it or not, there was once serious debate whether Stephen Curry or Monta Ellis should be the Warriors’ franchise player.
Golden State settled on Curry, trading Ellis to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut in 2012. Curry went on to lead the Warriors to three championships, win two MVPs and establish himself as the greatest shooter of all-time. After leaving Golden State, Ellis never regained the near-star status he established there.
But how close did the Warriors come to picking Ellis over Curry? Bucks owner Marc Lasry, chiding Warriors owner Joe Lacob’s “light years ahead” comment, suggests Golden State nearly did.
Lasry, via Frank Isola of The Athletic:
“I don’t know if they can be light years ahead if they traded Steph Curry to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut,” Lasry says of a proposed trade before he purchased the Bucks, which has been reported as both fact and urban legend. “That was the deal. But the Bucks’ medical staff didn’t think Steph’s ankle would hold up. That killed the deal. So, I don’t know if that’s being light years. It’s luck. And that’s fine.”
Lasry then smiled and added, “I think we got rid of that medical staff when we bought the team.”
Lasry bought the Bucks with Wesley Edens in 2014, well after these trade negotiations. So, Lasry’s retelling could be based on just hearsay. But his access to inside information is what makes this intriguing.
Really, this entire saga is full of circumstantial evidence.
The trade wouldn’t have worked under the salary cap with Curry’s salary instead of Ellis. But perhaps the teams had a different structure in mind with Curry rather than Ellis.
Former Warriors general manager Larry Riley said he dangled Curry only to get Milwaukee interested and always intended to deal Ellis. But that was after Curry became a superstar, and Riley might have wanted to protect his own reputation.
Tim Kawakami reported he found no evidence Golden State seriously considered trading Curry. But not all trade-negotiation details leak to the media.
I lean toward Lasry just embellishing something he heard, making the story inaccurately juicy. But I can’t say for certain.