Larry Riley: “Parting with Monta Ellis was not any fun at all”

March 15, 2012 – 10:00 am by Chris Fedor

The first major trade before the NBA trade deadline went down just a few days ago and it was a complete head-scratcher from the perspective of the Golden State Warriors this season. In a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Warriors dealt away one of the best scoring threats in the NBA with Monta Ellis as well as Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. Looking towards the future, this is a deal that could work out well for Golden State. Bogut is still just 27-years-old, he is a legitimate seven footer, a former number one overall pick, and when healthy, he is a force inside on offense and defense. However, Bogut’s biggest problem is that he hasn’t been able to stay on the court and hasn’t played a game this season since January.

For the Warriors to trade away their best player, a fan favorite, and a player that was helping Golden State win games in the Western Conference, and receive a player that can’t play right now is a huge risk, especially given that Golden State was in the middle of a pretty good season and they were a team that was just four games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Larry Riley joined 95.7 the Game in San Francisco to talk about the trade the team pulled off, how tough it was to trade away Monta Ellis, how in the loop Mark Jackson was on the trade, what the plan is with Stephen Jackson coming back to the Warriors, and what he liked about Andrew Bogut.

How he feels about the trade:

“Oh yes. Yesterday was a good day, today is a good day, and we have till tomorrow at noon for the rest of the trade deadline. We will see if there is anything else that can be done. I would think small things might come up yet but this is always a challenging week and it’s one that we’re really happy about. We’re just as pleased as we can be.”

How tough it was to trade Monta Ellis:

“That was the difficult thing. He is so popular in the Bay Area that it was never going to be a popular issue and there will always be some people that wish that we still had Monta Ellis. He earned that, he did a great job for us, we think the world of him as far as the contributions that he made, and it was very difficult for all of us to part with him. Joe Lacob sincerely was disappointed that we had to go in that direction. I was too. Yet if you’re going to make a change you have to give something to get something. That’s where it turned out to be. There’s a lot of give and take and there’s back and forth and people might say you should’ve given up this and you should’ve given up that, it came down to if you’re going to do the deal this is what it had to be. We didn’t want to change the potential for the future, we’ve now gotten away from two small guards in the backcourt, and we’re in a position where we have size up front. Frankly if you look at this year’s ball club we had developed a pretty good bench which we hadn’t had before and now if you’re going to look down into the future we could have a very good starting lineup the way it looks but I’m going to need to shore up the bench a little bit. Parting with Monta Ellis was not any fun at all.”

Whether Mark Jackson was in the loop on the trade:

“I had him posted all along. Well I shouldn’t say that because these trades take on somewhat of a different length of time. Each one of them can be a little different. This thing didn’t come up just in a few days. Those seeds were planted well before that in fact there was an extensive conversation with John Hammond of the Milwaukee Bucks last summer at the Chicago Pre-Draft camp and things continued but there didn’t appear to be anything there at that time. As everything evolved, then it began to heat up and a couple of weeks previous to All-Star weekend discussion got a little bit deeper and I would say within the last month Joe Lacob was advised of everything on a daily basis and certainly Mark Jackson since the All-Star break has been advised of what is taking place. He likes the idea of coaching a lineup similar to what we should have. Nobody, whether it was people within the organization or Mark Jackson, really wanted to give up Ekpe or give up Monta Ellis but it had to be done. Mark knew what was taking place all along. Like I have said we had a great deal of respect for both of these guys so much so that the deal was pretty much finalized at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, I was in the office, and the team was up in Sacramento and I wanted to go tell both players face to face, I don’t like making a phone call on that situation, it blew up all over me because by the time I got halfway to Sacramento, somebody had the story and it was out. We respect those players to the extent that that’s the way we wanted to try to conduct our business and as you can tell Ekpe took the high road, Monta was good to deal with, and it was one of those things where we had to give him up and in some respects it’s a sad day but we’re turning over a new leaf so to speak going into a new chapter and we have the rest of this season to play yet. We have a wonderful opportunity to see some of the players who haven’t had an opportunity to play quite as much and we’re going to try to win as many games as we can going through this year.”

If they are sensitive to the way Stephen Jackson’s time in Golden State ended:

“Yes. We’re also sensitive to the fact that the year we went to the playoffs he had a major role and was right in the middle of it. You probably recall that I traded him. It’s a small world and that happens. I will tell you what happened, Stephen left here in spite of the hoopla around the trade and when that thing was over, we shook hands and parted like gentlemen and if you can even imagine there was a certain degree of respect on both sides. He never thought, nor did I ever think he would be back here but it was done the right way and there’s an opportunity for him here now. You would probably get at least a 50-50 split or maybe it is 70-30 I don’t know. We’re sensitive to the fact that we’re going to put a group of guys on the floor that is going to compete every night and he is going to do that. We’re trying to win and we would like for all of them to be choir boys but it doesn’t always work that way. I’m going to put some faith in Stephen Jackson, so is coach Mark Jackson, and we’re going to go to work.”

On Andrew Bogut:

“We were pretty lucky because we have Larry Harris who is one of our scouts now and used to be the general manager with the Milwaukee Bucks and he drafted Andrew Bogut. He was in the organization with him for a number of years. The inside information on what kind of character he has we’ve been addressing character, we find here’s a player with great character, who loves to play, wants to win, and who does things the right way. Then you start evaluating the most important thing which is the basketball skill. He rebounds, he can make shots, he’s a good defender and a good passer and a good teammate. There aren’t many five’s that are available. Okay he’s injured. Also, that’s probably why he was available and why we were able to make this trade. We went through quite a process in regards to doctor’s analysis. Milwaukee’s doctors, our doctors, and then two more other specialists who reviewed the documentation and he’s healing on time and things are moving in the right direction, there don’t appear to be any red flags so is there a bit of a calculated risk? Sure there is but at the same time everything looks good and we’re told there shouldn’t be any problems. We now have a center, those guys are heard to get, he’s of medium age, and he is also under contract. We have a five who is coming here who is under contract and he is as happy as we are to be joining the Warriors and be a part of the Bay Area.”

Listen to Larry Riley on 95.7 the Game in SF here

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