Photo: AP Images
In the summer of 2009, Stephen Curry was a fresh-faced, clean-cut college basketball hero who pro teams badly wanted to believe in.Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis was a gunner best known for hurting himself in a moped accident, lying about it, and then feuding with the team over what penalty he would incur during a lengthy recovery period.
The Warriors drafted Curry as their point guard, and right away, the questions began about how these two small-ish, shoot-first players would co-exist in the back court. Ellis flat-out said they couldn’t. That season, Ellis established himself as the quintessential great scorer on a bad team, with numbers that suggested he wouldn’t be the same kind of powerhouse in a less shoddy situation. Curry, after an uneven start, made a late push for Rookie of the Year and developed into a confident PG. Curry was deemed untouchable, and Ellis was in theory still on the block, especially for a big man.
This year? On a Warriors team that’s probably much better than its record, Ellis is legitimately putting points on the board like few others in the league, while meshing better with his teammates. Curry has had injury problems and, while not exactly regressing, or clashing with Ellis, hasn’t exactly progressed. And now, new Warriors owner Joe Lacob has gone and flipped the script completely, telling the San Jose Mercury News that Ellis is the team’s rock and foundation and the only one he would never deal.
This didn’t sit right with Curry, who told Yahoo! that: “It was the first time that I had my name associated with the word ‘trade’ in the same sentence. It’s a little bit of a shock; I can’t lie about that. I feel like I’m working hard to get better every day and doing what they ask me to do.” Lacob went and cleaned it all up, sending an apologetic text message and then going on the radio to tell the people that both guards would be there “for a very long time.”
We still don’t know, though, if Lacob tipped his hand or was simply careless and misspoke. Either way, it’s yet another reminder that owners are very often best out of sight and out of mind. Even those who don’t meddle in their team’s basketball operations can be a distraction and create false confidence or controversy.
A week ago, Joe Lacob was in a fairly unique situation: His two best players were stars who worked together well enough, but could be split up without a serious setback. Now, he may have undermined some of the good vibes and turned it back into a competition. It’s unlikely that this was part of the front office’s plan. Then again, his son, Kirk, is the fourth-in-command there.
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