Click photo to enlarge
Golden State Warriors Monta Ellis (8) and David Lee (10) watch from the bench as they trail the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth period of their NBA basketball game, in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. (Anda Chu/Staff)

You can argue that trading Monta Ellis is the wrong decision because Ellis is such a special scorer. That's worth a debate.

Or you can think it's what has to be done because the Warriors won't be a realistic playoff contender unless they get bigger, either on the frontline or with a taller guard to pair with Stephen Curry (or trade Curry to pair with Ellis—your choice).

Which is what I believe.

And I believe Curry is the keeper because he's younger and a truer distributor-scorer, not just a scorer. Both are sketchy on D—no advantage there for either.

But what Warriors fans can't do any more is put their hands over their eyes and ears and deny that the team could or will ever consider trading a player as popular as Ellis. That's the old Warriors.

As it is becoming increasingly clear, these are not the same old Warriors—addicted to popular players and not to the tricky stuff like building a roster that can play D and win games.

* The latest report from CBS.com's Ken Berger: The talks are hot and Ellis' camp understands the situation and is believed to be amenable to working with the Warriors to find the right spot.

Berger reports that an Ellis-Iguodala deal is seen to be a 50-50 proposition to happen at this point. I have not heard that it's at all imminent, but this could be new stuff. Berger's a great reporter.

The shape of an Ellis deal is happening—at least the consideration part, and if Lacob, Larry Riley, Bob Myers and Jerry West find the right deal, then it will happen for real, with draft night looking like the moment.


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The important part, as the rumors fly (because the Warriors ARE talking with teams about potential Ellis deals), is figuring out what the Warriors can get for Ellis, what they should get, and who else out there is involved in this intense by-play.

It's definitely time to sketch through some names and scenarios and remember that trades can happen right now, as long as they work within the current salary-cap system.

(In case you're curious, the luxury-tax math works off of the teams' roster on the last day of the regular season. So if a deal happens to bring the GSWs over last year's lux-tax level, it won't count for this year's penalties.)

By the way, it's always amusing to chase back to previous times this issue has been broached, and what I said about the Ellis Trade Possibilities back in November 2009. Geez, not wildly different, eh?

An outline of the situation"...

MONTA ELLIS BREAKDOWN

-Salary: $11M for each of the next three seasons $33M total. I've heard from several execs that, even though that's a lot of money left, the flat-rate makes Ellis' remaining contract more palatable than if it was ascending salaries.

-Age: 25.

Smaller scoring guards don't have the longest high-prime career expectancies (see: Allen Iverson), and Ellis' expectancy might be lower due to the injury issues that have dotted his early career. (Jason Terry's going strong at 33, but he hasn't had many defensive or distribution responsibilities for awhile now.)

Some execs I've talked to believe Ellis is such a unique talent that he probably could score at a high rate for at least four or five more seasons and that's the max most execs look for, anyway.

-Best role: Pure scoring guard alongside a taller, defensive-minded point guard or an explosive Terry-like sixth man for a championship contender.

-Raw value: Teams are interested in Ellis, maybe more so than the Warriors expected a few weeks aago, when they first started talking deal (parallel to when West came aboard, not shockingly).

-Why the Warriors are likely to deal him: They've gone about as far as they can or want to go with Curry and Ellis getting mauled on the perimeter 20 to 30 times a season—that's just not how playoff teams operate.

Curry and Ellis are an entertaining backcourt. They are not a winning backcourt if you don't have power behind them, and the Warriors sure don't. The best way for the Warriors to starat to build a power frontline is to trade Ellis to help get them bigger players.

Many Ellis-Curry fans point to the Dallas backcourt, which often goes small with a combination of Jason Kidd, Terry and JJ Barea.

But Kidd is the difference-maker—he's so strong he can guard tough wings, and in fact has given LeBron James some of his most worried minutes in this series. Neither Ellis or Curry can do that.

Ellis is the more unique scorer. But as I've written a million times before, he also is the biggest possession-ender in the NBA over the last few years—missed shots plus turnovers—which can kill a team.

Ellis can fake some defense for stretches, but over the long haul, he needs a partner to take up the bulk of the tough assignments, and that is not Curry and will never be Curry. Curry gets the easy assignment, which leaves Ellis exposed.

That's why his plus-minus numbers have been so terrible in the Curry era. You can argue that Curry should be moved, but he's younger, cheaper, more of a passer, and plays the position you can get away with some lax defense if you grab a bigger, harder 2-guard to put alongside.

LIKELIEST DESTINATIONS

* Philadelphia: ESPN reported it a couple days ago, and it certainly could turn out that Ellis is moved for SF/SG Andre Iguodala.

Their salaries match and Iguodala (three years left, guaranteed $44.14M over the next three years) precisely fits what the Warriors could use—a lock-down, hard-nosed perimeter defender who also can move the ball on offense.

Iguodala, 27, is apparently very interested in leaving Philly and maybe the Warriors with Jackson is a place he'd find intriguing.

I think the Warriors would do that deal and probably offered it at the last trade deadline. Sorry Ellis fans, but Iguodala is a better overall player. (Some of that value is lessened because Iguodala has the much larger deal and it escalates per year.)

Iguodala is a bit of an offensive muddle—he can score in bunches, but just as often looks lost in the flow of an offense.

Still, even by the PER calculations (which does not take defense into account), Iguodala is a superior player over his career—17.1 career PER, to Ellis' 16.8 career number. Last year, Ellis had a better PER, I do note.

And Iguodala is a tremendous wing defensive player. Just tremendous. Defense matters.

I just don't think Philadelphia pulls the trigger on this, unless it can find no better deal for Iguodala (27), who is owed $13.5M, $14.71 and $15.9M (as a player-option).

The Warriors can sweeten the offer beyond Ellis by adding a flop of first-round picks or Ekpe Udoh, but I don't know that they'd be interested in doing that with their sights set on a guard guard with the 11th slot and Udoh is the big guy they have who can play D.

So what else could Philly get for Iguodala?

Chris Kaman is interesting to Philly because he only has one year left on his deal, at $12.2M, but I think the 76ers can do better than that, too. We'll see"...

-I agree with Marcus Thompson—I think the Warriors have been trying to get Iguodala for months now, with Ellis always theoretically on the table—and Philly has not taken the deal.

And if Andris Biedrins had any remaining value left, Philly would've been keenly interested in him, because Philly wants a scrappy rebounding center. But that's not Biedrins any more.

-Memphis: If the Warriors are consulting with Ellis on this, you know his home base of Memphis would be his first choice. And Memphiss has tried to get Ellis a couple times in the past, offering O.J. Mayo plus (the since traded) Hasheem Thabeet at one point.

Mayo was a crucial part of their playoff run, so I don't know if Memphis just throws him into any Ellis deal.

Rudy Gay was hurt for the playoff run—and is much loved in Memphis, especially by the owner; but West is the GM who acquired him in the first place for the Grizzlies, and Gay is owed $15M, $16.46M, $17.89M and $19.32M through 2015-'16.

Memphis swears it isn't trading Gay. Ellis would be an interesting test case.

-Chicago: Sure could use a scorer to pair with Derrick Rose, but Ellis' defensive weakness makes him a tough sell for coach Tom Thibodeau. Maybe he best fits as a 6th man, but would Chicago give up Luol Deng for a 6th man?

Tough deal to make because the rosters don't really match, other than with Deng, and I don't think Chicago's trading such an important glue player.

It's probably the place, though, where Ellis could have the greatest impact. If he closes games alongside Rose, they'd be a terror in the East.

-Minnesota: The T-Wolves have the 2nd overall pick, and aren't against trading it, because they already have a ton of young players and have Ricky Rubio coming in next year, too.

I'd guess the Warriors would love to have a shot at Arizona's Derrick Williams with the 2nd pick, but the problem is, what else would they have to take from Minnesota to make the money work? Luke Ridnour? Wayne Ellington? Jonny Flynn?

I'm not sure Monta would be too thrilled to end up in Minneapolis, either.

-Orlando: Mostly suggested because of GM Otis Smith, a former Warriors exec who has been known to collect former Warriors (Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Mickael Pietrus).

Not a great roster fit for an Ellis deal, however, because the Warriors wouldn't want Jameer Nelson and there's nobody gettable on the Magic that would seem to be worth Ellis. That's not counting Dwight Howard, of course, and he's not being moved for a 6-3 SG.

-Charlotte: Mentioned because of another former GSW exec, GM Rod Higgins, and because the Warriors did the Stephen Jackson deal not long ago with these guys.

Oh, and Stephen Silas is there as his dad's No. 1 assistant, anad if I remember correctly, Silas and Ellis were pretty tight when Stephen was an assistant here.

Don't really see a fit here, though. Boris Diaw fits salary-wise, and I'm sure Charlotte would do that deal, but not the Warriors.

-I've heard the Lakers mentioned as an Ellis possibility, but I don't quite see it. Do the Warriors suddenly want Luke Walton or a sign-and-trade for Shannon Brown? No, don't think so.

They're not getting Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom is not the right fit, I'd say.

I'd guess the Lakers might be slightly more tempted by David Lee. Also not a roster match, though.

By the way, it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody if West tries to open up talks to include Lee in some mammoth trade endeavor.

But I can't see the Warriors getting anything other than bad money in return for such an onerous long-term contract this summer. They aren't going get any value for him.

"Might take another year before they can move that contract," one NBA exec said recently.

Also, Lee remains one of Lacob's favorite players and I'm told Lee has made sure that Lacob knows how much he appreciates their close relationship.

Meanwhile, Lee and Ellis are not close pals—one source indicates that Ellis at one point last season informed coach Keith Smart that, if possible, he wanted no part of being around Lee, except on the court.

So yes, it could be an entertaining Warriors locker room if Ellis ISN'T dealt.

See what fun you're inheriting, Mark Jackson?