Ellis trade a big-time gamble for Warriors

March 14, 2012, 2:39 am
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The only escape for the Warriors from the hellish trap of the last ... oh, lets just say five years and be generous about it ... was to blow up the roster and get down to scratch.

Well, boom.


Monta Ellis is gone, and so is Ekpe Udoh and the rumor of Kwame Brown, to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut and his occasionally cranky body, and the old warhorse Stephen Jackson.

In other words, Jerry Wests interest in tearing it down to the studs and starting again and Joe Lacobs interest in making a trade splash superseded Lacobs chimerical playoff promise. The Warriors parted with their best trade chip and their most promising young big man for Bogut, a top six-center who has missed all but 12 games this season with a broken ankle.

In other words, this is a short-term disaster for the Warriors, whose only real hope now is to dump the season as elegantly as possible, including convincing Stephen Curry that his ankle needs more time and care than playing will allow.

Long-term ... well, long-term thinking has not been a Warrior long suit historically, so this trade at least has some intriguing ramifications.

It also breaks with Warrior tradition of absurdly overvaluing its own flawed players by including them in trade concepts with other teams truly elite players (see Howard, Dwight).

And finally, it is an acknowledgement that the Warriors were in the same cul-de-sac theyve been driving in since the mid-'90s -- trying to replace playoff contention with points, more against than for. And that something drastic needed to be done.

This is drastic. This is undoing this rebuild to start a new one. This is West finally winning the day from the stasis that has crushed this franchise time and again.

The problem, of course, is that if a Bogut-Curry-centric team isnt the answer either, were doing this again in two more years, perpetuating the laughable cycle of Were on the verge that has made them one of the sports least relevant teams.

Truth be told, the Warriors have actually been good at saying, This isnt working, but they have been exceedingly poor at showing the back end of that sentence, but this new thing were doing will.

And therein lies the grinding noise in fans heads. They suspected this was not a playoff team, and their trade speculations and dreams did not have a short-term surrender as part of the plan. To them, Ellis and Udoh got traded for Jackson, which in the short term is exactly what happened.

They will not be happy. They will fill the Coliseum Friday night to see the Bucks, and they will rage in their love for the departed Ellis and Udoh against their own management. Lacob is about to learn what the backhand of the honeymoon feels like, and for the amount of money he and Peter Guber spent to buy this team, the wounds will not heal soon.

Indeed, if they are the wounds the Warriors typically inflict upon themselves, they will not heal, Lacob will find out what Chris Cohan learned -- that owners have a short leash around here, and the more they talk without delivering, the shorter the leash is, and the harder it will be tugged. Cohan handled it by becoming a hologram, never seen, never heard but much vilified.

If Lacob is ready for that, and if Bogut turns out to be the Warrior the Warriors have always needed, Lacob will be able to fire off a series of bilious I told you sos at the people who are savaging him now.

But if not, well, owning the Warriors is a long and lonely thing. Six playoff appearances in 35 years takes its toll; one in 18 does, too. And someone will have to pay for this -- and pay hard.

It will either be us, for being so wrong about a bold and energizing move, or Lacob for blowing up the franchise to no good end again. It is measuring the dull gray known against the potentially exciting but very scary unknown, and the only thing at risk is Lacobs ability to sit at courtside and enjoy his basketball team.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.