But....above all the other storylines, the first eight games have shown that Monta Ellis is not a great fit within Coach Jackson's slowed down, more fundamental gameplan. The issue is not whether Curry and Ellis are a good pairing, or whether Curry's ankle makes him a liability as the team's star. The real issue is whether Ellis can be the star of a Mark Jackson-coached team. On the other hand, there is hope that Curry will take this year to get his ankle right and then use his premier shooting ability to lead a more half-court focused, defensive team that has less possessions each game with which to work. It seems weird to put Curry and defense in the same sentence, but in terms of structuring this roster, the best days ahead will involve Curry at the helm surrounded by an efficient supporting cast with toughness and high basketball IQ.
And while most fans will require the Warriors to produce a superstar in return for Ellis, I think it's time to consider the value of moving Ellis for cap relief, depth and hopefully a 1st round pick in 2012. While a star like Dwight Howard would be amazing of course, the reality is Golden State still isn't a destination. No star is going to want to re-sign with the Warriors right now. Maybe a couple years down the road with some building and progressive success, but this front office needs to step into the reality of the free-agent landscape today in early January 2012.
While I'd like to stop there and just leave this issue of Ellis/Jackson for discussion, I'm going to throw out a couple trade ideas to move the discussion forward. Everybody just stop it with the Dwight Howard talk. The other widely discussed potential deals have included impact players like Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith. While I like them both, they don't make this a great team. Rather, two teams I'd start talking to are Toronto and Charlotte.
Imagine the Warriors sending a package of Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Ekpe Udoh, and Charles Jenkins to Toronto for something like Jerryd Bayless, Amir Johnson, Leandro Barbosa, Ed Davis and a 2012 1st.
Bayless is a big guard that can flat out score and decently defend. Amir Johnson is a decent defender. Barbosa is a big expiring and Ed Davis was a top 10 pick that has shown flashes and could use a change of scenery. We all know the Raptors have been after Biedrins in the past and Ellis would be ridiculous off the ball with Caulderon. Udoh would give them nice defensive depth.
Jerryd Bayless/Klay Thompson
David Lee/Ed Davis
Amir Johnson/Kwame Brown*
And then there's Charlotte, where Gerald Henderson still hovers below the radar as a blossoming young player that plays solidly on both ends of the floor. Four years under Coach K will do that. He worked out with Steph this summer and I'd love the thought of those two sharing the backcourt in Oakland. In a dream deal, I'd send Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Dorell Wright and Ekpe Udoh for Boris Diaw, Gerald Henderson, Tyrus Thomas, Reggie Williams and a 2012 1st. Charlotte gets a stud to put next to Augustin and Kemba, a decent center, Dorell's pretty favorable contract, and Udoh as a promising young player. Plus they dump Tyrus Thomas' borderline albatross contract.
Stephen Curry/Nate Robinson*/Charles Jenkins
Gerald Henderson/Klay Thompson
Brandon Rush/Dominic McGuire
David Lee/Tyrus Thomas
Boris Diaw/Kwame Brown*
In both of these deals, the Warriors would enter next off-season with over 20+ million in cap space and a clear direction. Mark Jackson is here for the long haul and so he will chart that direction. I think Curry is going to be a part of it along with David Lee and his immovable contract (amnesty?!). Who knows, maybe Ellis' subtraction will even make both of the above rosters more competitive than this year's current mess of a roster, one that is now in the throws of a severe identity crisis. So I think it's time for this front office to think creatively, maybe outside the box, and move Ellis now without requiring a star in return. If they're thinking in terms of basketball sense and not short-term business sense, then hopefully they're considering such deals already.