Warriors coach Don Nelson was asked Monday about a report that surfaced earlier in the day. It told of talks between the Warriors and the Celtics involving Monta Ellis and Boston's Ray Allen.
Nelson's response? He burst into laughter.
It's that time of year, when team executives start jockeying for position and the trade rumors start to swirl. Golden State almost assuredly will come up in more speculation. While some of it may not be true, one thing is certain: Change is practically a guarantee. The only question is when.
"We're in a situation where we need to look very strongly at change," general manager Larry Riley said. "Whether it's by Feb. 18 (trade deadline) or in the offseason, we're in a situation where we're going to have to make a change here."
Per team policy, Riley declined to comment on any specifics or some of the trade rumors. But according to multiple team sources, the Warriors have long since deemed Ellis as off-limits. No doubt, getting the Warriors to remove the untouchable tag would require more than Allen.
The same sources — in response to Sunday's report that the Warriors are interested in Phoenix's All-Star big man Amare Stoudemire — said Golden State hasn't talked to the Suns since last summer. Also, the Warriors have not backed off their refusal to give up anything significant for a player who won't sign a long-term extension upon arrival.
Getting a potential acquisition to commit long term to the Warriors is one of the many obstacles Riley and his staff will face in their efforts to improve the roster.
They also have the new collective bargaining agreement coming in 2011, which is expected to include a lower salary cap. This not only affects how much the Warriors are willing to spend and whom they are willing to give up, it means they are dealing with cautious trading partners, as other teams share the same concerns.
Plus, with all the Warriors' injuries, Riley hasn't had much of a chance to see how his young core plays together (though he said he's seen enough to make a decision on whom to keep).
Riley said he doesn't see making any minor trades though didn't completely rule out one by the deadline. He said if a deal he likes comes along before the deadline, he'll pull the trigger even if it takes the Warriors out of the running for the offseason sweepstakes expecting to take place. With that said, Riley said he isn't opposed to standing pat until the offseason.
The Warriors have some $12 million in expiring contracts on their roster in guards Raja Bell and Speedy Claxton, forward Devean George and center Chris Hunter. If Golden State stands pat, that money will come off the cap, giving them the potential to sign a free agent or pull off a sign-and-trade.
Either way, Riley said, he is certain to take advantage of the flexibility.
"I have never been told to try to go save money," Riley said. "I've been told to try to improve this basketball team. I do feel like I will get something done."