NBA: Warriors kick off second half without Ellis
By Marcus Thompson II
Contra Costa Times
LOS ANGELES — Golden State Warriors general manager Larry Riley said the probability favors Golden State not making a trade by Thursday’s deadline. He said he’s fine if that is the case. He said he will try again in the offseason, and until then he will evaluate the roster for the rest of the season.
The rest of the season starts Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, and it will start without Monta Ellis.
The Warriors’ star guard will not play. Instead, he will get his sprained left knee evaluated by Dr. James Andrews today in Birmingham, Ala. Andrews is the same doctor who repaired Ellis’ torn left ACL his senior year in high school.
Ellis sustained the injury in the final minutes of a home loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 8. His status for Wednesday’s home game against the Sacramento Kings will be determined after Andrews makes an evaluation.
“We definitely could use him,” said Warriors guard Anthony Morrow, who likely will start at shooting guard in place of Ellis. “But when I was out, he told me not to rush back. So I would tell him the same thing.”
Riley said he isn’t “overly concerned” about Ellis’ left knee thanks to the preliminary diagnosis and Ellis’ propensity for bouncing back from injuries. Ellis’ injury certainly isn’t enough to shift Riley’s focus from the phones.
Although Riley said it doesn’t look like a deal will be made by Thursday’s trade deadline, he said he will still try some things over the next two days.
One of his options, according to a couple sources (one from the Warriors and one from an Eastern Conference front office), is to trade forward Corey Maggette to the Cleveland Cavaliers for center Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ $11.5 million expiring contract. But if that were to happen, it would be closer to Thursday and Cleveland would have exhausted its other options — which reportedly include Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire, Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison and Indiana Pacers big man Troy Murphy.
Riley declined to comment on specifics, but he did say the door isn’t completely closed to a trade.
“There could be something that comes up at the end (of the deadline),” Riley said in a phone interview. “I’ve got two or three balls in the air. But they’re about to drop.”
The players the Warriors want either aren’t available, or the Warriors can’t present the best offer. That leaves the Warriors on the outside looking in for the players they covet: New Orleans Hornets forward David West, New York Knicks center/forward David Lee, Minnesota Timberwolves center Al Jefferson and Houston Rockets forwards Carl Landry and Luis Scola, to name a few.
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While Golden State has expiring contracts, it doesn’t, like other teams, have desirable players it is willing to include to sweeten the deal. Such players are either injured or carry sizable contracts. Plus, teams are looking to dump bad contracts, and Riley said the Warriors can’t take any.
The Warriors might be willing to take on a player under salary for next season, one source said. But the player would have to be a fit on the court and can’t require giving up too much. For instance, Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko is making $17 million next season. Shave about $5 million off that, and the Warriors probably would deal for him. But as it stands, they would have to give up too much (i.e., center Andris Biedrins) to make it work.
“I’ll be on the phones the rest of this period,” Riley said, “but I’m not overly excited about anything I’m getting at this point. ... That’s what it seems, like the best move will be not making a move. But we’ve been preparing for the summer for some time.”