Was Golden State’s trade of Monta Ellis the right move?

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Two weeks have passed now since the Golden Stagbte Warriors exchanged Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown for Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. (That trade was followed by the Warriors swapping Jackson for Richard Jefferson and a first round pick). The trade has turned out to be more polarizing than any I can remember in recent Warriors memory, and certainly the most controversial in the NBA since the Boston Celtics dealt Kendrick Perkins last year.

It’s rare to see so much conflicting opinion about a trade among sports writers across the internet as well as within a fan base.  Recently I have read articles that stated the move was unequivocally the right one to make, and a necessary one at that. Don Nelson said during the Warriors broadcast on March 19th it’s a rare opportunity that you have to jump on whenever you can trade a guard for a quality big man like Bogut.  Obviously Warriors brass felt the same way.  But then I have read a number of articles which contain an air of befuddlement, wondering what drove Golden State to make such a terrible series of trades.  Some articles just seem to waffle indecisively between the two sides.  And of course fans expressed their displeasure with the trade when they decided to turn Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement night into a giant boo-fest of Joe Lacob.

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Perhaps this sort of thing can be expected from the general slew of sports opinionists, most of whom probably don’t spend a whole lot of time watching Warriors games or Bucks games for that matter, and thus are not completely attuned to the team’s situation.  I was surprised however about the differing opinions among fans.  A number of my friends were very disappointed with the trade, while others (myself included) thought it was a great move for the future. What’s become apparent however is that most fans who disliked the trade did so not because they thought the team was going to be worse off down the road, but because they were going to miss Monta and Udoh (very few people were troubled by the loss of Kwame Brown, although he did play well for the Dubs before his injury and very well may be back next year.)  Ellis was the face of the franchise, and easily the most popular player in Oakland.  Hell, even Lacob’s wife was angry about the trade.  All emotional attachment aside however, many of my friends eventually agreed that it was probably a good move.

Indeed, I fully agree with this sentiment, and it’s easy to see where angry fans are coming from. It’s very difficult to just say goodbye to a player you have invested so much time following and rooting for, and often a trade will seem quite abrupt.  It certainly took me a little while to get over the initial shock after hearing that Monta was no longer a Warrior.  I’ve spent the last six years watching Monta Ellis grow and develop into a team leader and one of the most exciting, prolific scorers in the league.  You could always count on Monta for at least one whirling, reverse finish at the rim, or an incredible spin move through traffic.  The Dubs might not always win, but as a fan you knew that most games would be somewhat close and at the very least entertaining.  Hopefully with Bogut (and Curry) healthy and at least one draft pick added to the mix next year the Dubs can be a legitimate playoff contender, and people will wonder why they ever questioned the trade in the first place.

Eli Pearlman is an NBA writer for The Sports Blitz.  He can be contacted at EPearlman@TheSportsBlitz.com.

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