Now just a second: This draft steal won't get away from Warriors
March 6, 2008
By Matt Steinmetz
The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Back on Feb. 11, the Washington Wizards visited the Warriors, and Gilbert Arenas was back in the arena where he began his NBA career.
Arenas didn't play that night because he was rehabbing from left knee surgery. But people still wanted to hear from him.
Monta Ellis will be a restricted free agent, whereas Gilbert Arenas was unrestricted. And that makes all the difference. (Getty Images)
Arenas, who was a second-round pick of the Warriors in 2001, was asked about Golden State's Monta Ellis, who also had slipped out of the first round in 2005. Now in his third season, Ellis is in some ways the "new" Arenas, a player who has gone from draft-day afterthought to star.
"Hopefully they can keep him this year," Arenas said of Ellis, who will become a restricted free agent this summer. "Everybody knows he's free, so everybody's going to want him. So hopefully they don't make the same mistake on him that they made with me."
Don't worry, Gilbert. That's not likely to occur.
After spending two seasons with the Warriors, Arenas became an unrestricted free agent in 2003. Considering he hadn't even accumulated $1 million through those two years of NBA pay, it was hardly a surprise when Arenas signed a six-year, $65 million offer sheet from the Wizards.
The Warriors, over the salary cap at the time, were trumped. They had 15 days to match Washington's offer but were in no position to do so. All they could muster was a one-year, $4.9 million deal -- the mid-level exception -- with the hope that Arenas would delay (significant) financial gratification for one more year, earn his Bird rights, then sign a long-term deal with the Warriors in 2004.
So there went Arenas, who had just won the NBA's Most Improved Player award, to D.C., leaving his Bay Area fan base to curse the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, which seemingly penalized the Warriors for uncovering Arenas with the 31st overall pick.
Now, fast forward to 2005, with the Warriors once again striking gold in the second round, this time with Ellis and the 40th pick.
Ellis, like Arenas, didn't do much for the first half of his rookie season, then started to show flashes of brilliance late in the year. In his second season, Ellis won the NBA's Most Improved Player award. Just like Arenas.
Uh-oh. You could hardly blame Warriors fans for fearing the worst -- that another cat-quick, talented guard was going to get away.
But a lot has changed since Arenas walked away from the Warriors. In fact, the Arenas-Ellis circumstances aren't the same at all. And this time, the Warriors should benefit.
First off, Ellis signed a three-year contract after he was drafted, meaning the Warriors would hold his full rights and can match any offer he receives this summer without regard to their salary-cap status.
Also, the NBA has since put in place what Bay Area fans call the "Gilbert Arenas rule," which makes it easier for a team to keep its second-round selections by limiting what other teams can offer.
In other words, the "un" in unrestricted made all the difference in the world when Arenas left. It will be the Warriors' call whether Ellis stays or goes. And he isn't going anywhere.
Last summer, the Warriors traded their face of the franchise, Jason Richardson, for a draft pick and $10 million trade exception. The reason was simple: They know that this summer they're going to have to pony up for both Ellis and Andris Biedrins, also a free agent.
Ellis is out of the shadows of teammates Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson and has forged his own identity. Ellis has both end-to-end speed and first-step quickness. It is a combination few players possess, and on top of it all, Ellis has proved to be a phenomenal finisher.
Oh, and he has the mid-range jumper, making him a nightmare matchup.
Ellis is coming off a historic February, one in which he became just the eighth guard in NBA history to shoot 60 percent or better from the field in a month.
That list boasts names such as John Stockton, Steve Nash and Sidney Moncrief. But while each of those players accomplished the feat by averaging 12 or fewer shots per game over that period, Ellis averaged 17.5 shots per game.
He went 11-for-12 from the field against Chicago, 12-for-15 the next game against Sacramento. He went 18-for-27 from the field against Phoenix and, as February drew to a close, 14-for-22 against Seattle.
Said Arenas: "He's good, and playing in a system like that makes him look even better. That's why for him, it's better that he stays here, because if he goes somewhere else, they might not play the same style he plays."
For the season, Ellis is averaging 19.5 points per game on .534 shooting. His game is growing at a rapid rate. Last season, Ellis shot just 27 percent from 3-point range. So what did he do this season? He has virtually eliminated the 3-pointer from his repertoire (only six attempts in the last 29 games) and instead has relied on a consistent 18-footer and an uncanny ability to get to the rim and finish there.
How much better Ellis can become is anyone's guess. But one thing is for sure: He'll be improving in a Warriors uniform.
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:32 pm
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he will step up the defense and work on his three not thate we need another three point shooter....but baron and jack wont be around 4ever
then his three will be needed
I had the meaning but missed the experience.
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:06 am
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its nice to know ellis and biedrins will be here for a while. i'd hate to max out our cap space when baron's contract is up tho. i hope he stays for less.
"Losing is inevitably close to winning," Guber said. "They're inches apart. Drama. If you have drama, you've got a ticket to sell." "They're not real fans," Lacob said. "They don't have season tickets."
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Thanks sf...and how poetic that it happened with me defending Gil
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Congrats on your 1000 post, sleandres. Well, 1005 already.
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