Monta optimistic at first practice

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Monta optimistic at first practice

OAKLAND The Warriors opened their 2011-12 training camp on Friday, which meant it was the first time that new coach Mark Jackson had a chance to coach Monta Ellis.After the practice, Ellis sat down for an interview with the media.Question: Was the first practice intense?
Monta Ellis: Its kind of crazy right now but the good thing is were back playing basketball. I love the environment, love the changes that have been made. The energy that Mark Jackson brings and all the assistant coaches bring has been great. All the players have great mindsets and its a new beginning.
Question: What has Mark Jacksons message to you been?
Monta Ellis: Just that its going to be a big change and defense is going to be the focus point no matter what. Weve got to find a way to win and play together as a unit.Question: You were involved in trade rumors. Did you hear any of them?
Monta Ellis: I really didnt listen. Every year I go through that. It was another summer of rumors. Im here now just putting all that behind me.Question: What was Jacksons practice like?
Monta Ellis: Thats all it was. We did a couple of offensive things, but more defense than anything. You know, talking and getting to know each other.Question: What has been Andris Biedrins issue the past couple of years and do you think he can get back to the player he once was?
Monta Ellis: I really dont know what it was the past few years, but this year its a new Andris. I think him having a family changed him. He looks like and feels like the old Andris so time will tell. I hope this carries on.Question: With Marks experience as a point guard, how does that help you and Stephen Curry?
Monta Ellis: Its going to be a great season. He brings a lot to both of us as far as trying to lead a team, run a team and be more vocal. Landing a high-profile point guard as a coach is a great thing for us.Question: And what about the fact that he stepped into practice today and did some things with you players during drills?
Monta Ellis: I dont know if that was a good thing or bad. Its going to be fun. Hes showing us that its going to be different around here and thats a positive.Question: Marks been vocal about having you on the team. Has he told you that?
Monta Ellis: He told me. Im a Golden State Warrior until they move me. I dont get into all that. I let them upstairs handle that and I handle the basketball court. I want to be a Golden State Warrior. I love it here and I want to play basketball.Question: Mark wants the team to be more vocal. Does that come naturally to this team?
Monta Ellis: I think we all have it in us. Weve just got to trust one another. Thats what hes bringing, to talk more and be as one. And not everybody on their own little island.Question: How tired are you of hearing about new beginnings?
Monta Ellis: It does get old but its a business. Ive been around for seven years and every year is something new. Youve got to adjust and look at the positives. It is a new beginning.Question: If Mark Jackson stresses defense and you guys buy in, can you still be as effective offensively?
Monta Ellis: Well have to. We have to find a way. Thats the thing he said. No matter what we have to leave it out on the court and were going to have to find a way to win. No matter what it takes. If it takes playing offense on one end and defense on the other, then that just means you have to work harder.Question: You guys did lead the league in steals last year.
Monta Ellis: You cant have two people out there and the other three just lagging around. Thats the biggest thing. Hes trying to get everyone on the same page and work together as a unit. Dont leave anyone on an island. Once we get that concept down, well be all right.Question: Do you think youll run the same offense?
Monta Ellis: No. We havent talked about offense yet. Mostly defense, but I dont think its going to be the same.Question: What was this Mark Jackson practice like?
Monta Ellis: Weve been in tougher practices than this. When Don Nelson first got here it was rougher than this. But its a great sign that were heading in the right direction.Question: Seemed like there was a lot of rah-rah.
Monta Ellis: No. Go back. Like I said weve had practices like this. Weve just got to be consistent with it.Question: Do you consider the Warriors your team?
Monta Ellis: Its Joe Lacobs team. Im just a player thats out here trying to do whatever it takes to get over the hump. Were not going to get into whose team it is. Its all of our team.Question: What about if Jackson asks you to take fewer shots?
Monta Ellis: It doesnt matter to me. At this point in my career I want to win.

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

OAKLAND -- Though Kevin Durant is eager to get back to the court, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his assistants are in preliminary stages of planning his return.

One thing is certain: There will be restriction on the number of minutes Durant is plays in the first few games after he receives medical clearance.

“It’s something we’ll consult the training staff on,” Kerr said Saturday after practice. “I imagine we’ll ease him back by playing him shorter minutes to start, so he can build up his rhythm and his conditioning.”

Durant has been out since Feb. 28, when he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and bone bruise to his left knee. After several days of strict immobilization, he has over the past week progressed to the point where he is engaging in vigorous workouts and shooting sessions.

Yet Durant will not be re-evaluated until next Thursday, which means he likely will not be cleared before the week of April 3. Not until then will the coaching staff devise a plan to reintegrate Durant.

“That obviously has a domino effect on the entire rotation,” Kerr said. “When we get to that point, we’ll figure that out. But it’s not something I’m giving a lot of thought to right now because he’s still at least a couple weeks away.”

The Warriors lost five of seven in the immediate aftermath of Durant’s injury but have recovered to win the last six in a row.

 

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any baseball manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.