Steinmetz: Early Returns on Ellis


Steinmetz: Early Returns on Ellis

Matt Steinmetz

OAKLAND -- There's a lot of skepticism when it comes to Monta Ellis, and whether he can maintain his positive outlook and attitude for the rest of the season.

Look, there's no doubt Ellis is a different person than he was a year ago. The question is: Can he keep it up?

Well, after Ellis equaled a career high with 46 points to lead the Warriors to a season-opening 132-128 win against the Rockets, his coach thinks he will.

"This young man has made a complete turnaround in his life," Warriors coach Keith Smart said. "And once your life is in order things start to work perfectly for you. His relationship (marriage) and his life are in great order, and the guy has been ready to play since the summer, working out with (assistant) coach (Steven) Silas in Memphis."

After a disappointing 2009-10, one in which the Warriors won only 26 games, Ellis showed up early to training camp and re-integrated himself with the team. Last season Ellis seemed distant, almost on the periphery -- even though he was putting up big numbers.

There was also plenty of discussion a year ago about whose team this was -- Stephen Curry's or Monta Ellis'. Well, there's no doubt right now that if Ellis is engaged and focused, the Warriors are Ellis' team.

And why not? He's the Warriors' best player.

Ellis started Wednesday's game hot and never did cool off. He had 17 points in the first quarter, 27 points at the half, and wound up an astonishing 18-for-24 game from the field.

"It's easy to play when you're not worrying about anything," Ellis said afterward, acknowledging that his life off the court has made being on the court more enjoyable.

"I'm just happy we got the win," Ellis said. "It was just one of those games where shots were going in early and then they just kept falling."

Said Houston coach Rick Adelman: "We did not shut off his drives and he was able to get to the basket. We kept him off the free-throw line for the most part until the end of the game when we fouled him. But he had a great effort. It seemed like he made every shot."

Not quite, but Ellis' performance on Wednesday was pretty impressive. Come to think of it, Ellis has been pretty impressive since Day 1. And all signs point to him being able to keep it up.

Reports: Bogut agrees to buyout with 76ers, considering four teams

Reports: Bogut agrees to buyout with 76ers, considering four teams

Andrew Bogut is reportedly searching for a new home.

The big man agreed to a buyout with the 76ers on Monday and is considering four teams for his next destination, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

Cleveland, Houston, San Antonio and Boston are reportedly in the running for Bogut's services.

On Sunday, ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported that two of his sources said they expect Bogut to sign with the Cavs.

Last week, Dallas traded Bogut to Philadelphia.

The Warriors are eligible to re-sign Bogut, but Golden State is looking to add a guard in the coming days.

Warriors continue to thrive in their second calling

Warriors continue to thrive in their second calling

Programming note: Warriors-76ers coverage starts today at 3pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Credit must be given to the Golden State Warriors for keeping the brand alive on multiple platforms – to the point where they are now indirectly and barely tangentially linked to the Great Oscars Envelope Piefight.

Stay with us here. We’ll get to it.

The mundane matter of winning has, as expected, taken care of itself. They’ve clinched a playoff berth earlier than any other team, at least in the 16-team playoff era, they’ve hit their full stride with the Kevin Durant trade, they’re nervously navigating the Draymond Green Cavalcade of Technical Fouls, and they have led their supporters into the same old trap of thinking that regular season success is the same as postseason invulnerability.

In that way, they are much as they were a year ago, and the year before that.

But it is their underrated ability to find ancillary links to the world outside the NBA that makes them more than merely, say, the 1983 Fo’-Fo’-Fo’ 76ers.

Steve Kerr has been a political and social critic, and more than once – meaning that he hasn’t stumbled into discussions about the political state of the nation as much as he has leaped into them eyes wide open and feet fireproofed. He has not been tricked into a comment, ever. He says what he wants, and is in that way the management equivalent of . . .

. . . Green, who is more often than not the de facto team spokesman, Pushback Division, in that he will speak to anyone on any subject at any time. He is in many ways the Swiss Army Knife of sound bites, and when he decides to err on the side of volubility does not mind taking on opponents, strangers, his coach and, occasionally even teammates. He is a walking debate about temper management that is either 1 or 1-A to DeMarcus Cousins.

Durant and Russell Westbrook have, less voluntarily, been the subjects of a semi-philosophical debate about loyalty vs. business vs. opportunity vs. abandonment. Much of it has been driven not by them but by us, but we let go of cheap and easy narratives with the same willingness that Rottweilers demonstrate with a burglar’s femur.

JaVale McGee, the backup center, has just now engaged with some force with megabus/provocateur Shaquille O’Neal over O’Neal’s intermittent needling of McGee that finally hit the red, resulting in a unilateral cease-fire imposed by O’Neal’s mother Lucille that has not yet been agreed to by McGee’s mother Pamela. In other words, this is a family thing, with all the landmined dynamics that implies – a sure-fire talker both for those who like their debates either trivialized or broadened to take on larger social themes.

And the Oscars? Well, Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali is a self-admitted huge fan of The Bridge, having grown up in the area, played at Mount Eden High and Saint Mary’s on a ball scholarship, and now he is part of the best Oscars story that doesn’t involve movie junkies since Sacheen Littlefeather rejected Marlon Brando’s Oscar on his behalf. That the Warriors weren’t wearing black armbands Monday night in Philadelphia to protest the envelope screwup is a missed opportunity that only having Ali courtside amid Joe Lacob, Pete Guber, Phil Hellmuth and Beyonce for Game 2 against Denver in April can remedy.

In other words, cue the marketing department.

Next to all this, the arcane notion of the Warriors clinching a playoff spot and being on pace to having the largest margin between conference winner and ninth-place team since Boston (67-15) whipped Cleveland (29-53) in 1986 by a smooth 38 games means – well, next to nothing. Especially since we now know, or should know, that nothing happens until June says it happens.

And if the Warriors are the brand name they occasionally claim to be by being more than just a superb basketball team, they will remain abreast of all social and cultural trends, fitting them as best they can between the 21 remaining off-days as best they can.

It is apparently their second calling – to be small but available thermometers for any subject you’ve got, from the changing nature of basketball to the coming civil war to the death of the sun. It’s a good thing they’ve taken care of the playoff thing; otherwise, there’d be no getting them to maintain focus.