Warriors general manager Larry Riley and coach Don Nelson flew to Memphis, Tenn., last week to hand guard Monta Ellis the keys to the locker room.
"Coach came down here, and that's exactly what it was," Ellis told KNBR's "Fitz & Brooks" show Thursday. "He said, 'I'm putting the team in your hands, on your shoulders, and we're gonna see how it goes.' And I'm ready for that responsibility right now."
So it stands to reason that Ellis will have an impact on what the Warriors do in the NBA draft Thursday in New York. Ellis, the team's highest-paid and most-heralded player, is expected to take over as the full-time point guard next season, as Nelson has said in the past. Whom the Warriors select at No. 7 should give insight as to the immediate direction they intend to take.
Do they draft point guard Brandon Jennings and risk interfering with Ellis' development, considering Jennings is the truer point guard and probably ready to contribute almost immediately?
Do they select sharp-shooting Stephen Curry, who has some star-power of his own and perhaps could rival Ellis' scoring ability while bringing some point guard skills?
Do they neglect their point guard needs and draft a big man or a swingman? And if they do, is that a gesture of confidence in Ellis or a sign they prefer a veteran point guard backing up Ellis?
The latest from the rumor mill is that Nelson and Riley's trip to visit Ellis was to talk him off his trade demands and to promise him they wouldn't draft a point guard.
Ellis did not address those reports directly during his radio interview. Ellis was not available for comment for this story. The Warriors are making Riley available to the media on Monday.
If nothing else, the visit to Ellis suggests his opinions and feelings matter to the organization. For his part, Ellis said he was having no direct influence on the draft. He said they "told me a couple names" but that he's going to roll with whatever decision they make.
Ellis did, however, intimate that some things needed to be worked out, specifically between him and Nelson.
"I actually think it is going to help us a lot, me and Coach getting on the same page and not going through what we went through last year," Ellis said in the radio interview. "But everybody's got to be on the same page, and that meeting really put us on the same page that we're going to come in to training camp for another season and get this thing back on the road."
Ellis' unhappiness has been an issue for the Warriors since he injured his left ankle last offseason and lied about how, prompting a 30-game suspension from the team. Two team sources said Ellis demanded a trade shortly after season's end.
But Ellis, once again, proclaimed his desire to stay with the organization.
"I'm a Golden State Warrior," Ellis said in the radio interview. "I'm gonna be a Warrior, and hopefully one day I can retire as a Warrior. Right now, I am a Golden State Warrior. I'm not thinking about leaving. It hasn't come across my mind. The only thing I want to do is win. That's all I really can say.
"I don't know where that stuff has come out, but right here, right now, I'll set the record straight: That never came from me, and I'm a Warrior. And you don't have to worry about Monta Ellis, because No. 8 will be in a Warriors jersey next year."
Unless, that is, if the Warriors decide to trade him this offseason. Such a decision would certainly influence how the Warriors use the No. 7 pick.
Contact Marcus Thompson II at firstname.lastname@example.org.