SACRAMENTO -- Monta Ellis said he was prepared, said he had a feeling something was going to happen.
So when he learned Tuesday he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, not even two hours before the Warriors' 115-89 win over the host Sacramento Kings, he was able to smile about it. He chatted with now-former-teammates, switched out of his No. 8 uniform and into all-black street clothes, then gave his parting interview.
Just like that, Ellis' tenure with Golden State was done.
"It is what it is, man," Ellis said before the game. "I had some great years here, and I had some bad ones. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to do what I did for seven years here. I started my career here, but they're going in another direction."
Ellis was the only one in the locker room not emotionally jabbed by the news. The rest of the team was shocked, upset or confused.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Ellis, second-year big man Ekpe Udoh and injured center Kwame Brown, who has an expiring contract, were sent to Milwaukee. In exchange, the Warriors received center Andrew Bogut and swingman Stephen Jackson -- who helped choreograph the Warriors' We Believe playoff run in 2007 before leaving on bad terms in November 2009.
The Warriors went from eager to get on the court, invigorated by a late-season playoff push, to having the wind knocked out of them by a trade-deadline body blow.
"This is a business," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said, "but
Point guard Stephen Curry said: "It was a little bit of an emotional roller coaster. It's a tough situation. I am shocked. ... Two of your main guys. It's tough to deal with."
But Warriors management felt it was worth it for Bogut, whom they had been after quietly since last summer but couldn't get Milwaukee to budge until recently. Adding Bogut potentially quenches the franchise's thirst for a center.
Bogut, the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, is regarded as one of the better centers in the NBA -- especially on the defensive end. He was named All-NBA third team last season. The previous two seasons, he finished in the top four in the NBA in defensive rating. In both the 2009-10 and the 2010-11 seasons, Bogut ranked among the top two in blocks per game and top 10 in rebound percentage.
For his career, he averages 12.7 points, and his 52.2 percent shooting ranks ninth among active players.
Bogut, 27, has played only 12 games this season after he fractured his left ankle Jan. 25 and won't be back before April, if at all this season. For that reason, several players expressed concern about the message management was sending. In essence, the Warriors gave up two starters for an injured center and a question mark in Jackson.
"So we're just giving up on the season?" one Warrior asked aloud before the game.
Said forward David Lee after the game: "It certainly on paper looks that way. That's the best way of putting it, I think. We acquired two great players, but from what I heard, Bogut is out for a long while. So, it certainly seems that way. We lost two guys who are a huge part of what we do."
Management isn't convinced the trade is a death sentence to Golden State's playoff hopes. After the win Tuesday, the Warriors have won three straight and are among five teams in pursuit of Houston for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference. Golden State trails the Rockets by three games.
The Warriors did not want to trade Udoh, one source said, but the Bucks would not do the deal without Udoh in it. Figuring Bogut and power forward Lee will dominate the minutes, Golden State was willing to sacrifice Udoh.
Team sources said the Warriors are fielding offers for Jackson. Warriors management is convinced Jackson could help the team, but as one source said, "It would be weird" for Jackson to once again be a Warrior. If Golden State can, it will try to use Jackson to fill the hole at center they now have without Udoh, a source said.
"No other option for me," Mark Jackson said when asked if the playoffs were still a goal. "It doesn't make a difference who is out there, our objective is still the same. Go out there, play Warriors basketball and let the chips fall where they may. The promise remains the same."
Co-owner Joe Lacob, general manager Larry Riley, assistant general manager Bob Myers and Kirk Lacob, director of player personnel, were in attendance at Power Balance Pavilion on Tuesday. Though they declined to comment, it was easy to see Warriors management was happy about the trade.
The removal of Ellis figures to allow Curry the chance to develop and flourish as the team leader. Ellis' ball dominance often relegated Curry to a spot-up role. Also, no Ellis means more opportunity for rookie swingman Klay Thompson, whom the Warriors love and refused to include in any trade.
What's more, having a legitimate center who rebounds and protects the rim will only make Lee better, Golden State expects.
"You watch," one team source said, "David Lee is going to be an All-Star."
The Warriors were urged to pull the trigger by Ellis' public comments to this newspaper earlier Tuesday, one of the sources said. After shootaround, Ellis expressed disappointment in management's ability to improve the roster.
The source said Ellis for days had been grumbling privately about wanting out, expressing his frustrations -- especially after the Warriors nixed a deal that would have sent him to Orlando with big man Dwight Howard.
"It's time," Ellis said. "They're moving in a new direction. I can't be mad about that. I was in those shoes at one time, when a veteran guy was playing in front of me. It becomes time for that player to go. It's my time to go. It is what it is."
players in the trade