Quick Thoughts

1.    More on Monta:    As we recently discussed, the Monta Ellis Saga a/k/a “Moped Gate” has sort of resolved itself.  Previously, we noted that it was likely that the Warriors would recoup some money for Ellis getting injured in a prohibited activity and the only question is what was a fair number in light of how much Ellis was making and how much his value was diminished by the injury.  It seems, however, that Warriors GM Chris Mullin had told Ellis that the injury was only an accident and should be forgiven.  Team President Robert Rowell didn’t quite see it that way and suspended Ellis for 30 games (costing about $3 million).  Rowell is quoted by Tim Kawakami in this nice FAQ about the Ellis situation thusly: “Chris Mullin made it perfectly clear to both [owner Chris] Cohan and myself that he didn’t think this was a big deal at the beginning. And we happen to think it’s a very big deal.” 

In two previous cases with Jay Williams and Vlad Radmanovic, the teams basically forgave some of the injury/breach of contract.  Williams was able keep half of his $6 million after his horrific motorcycle accident and Vlad was fined $500,000 for a snowboarding injury.  Williams getting $3 million was basically an act of charity by the Bulls because Williams’ career was clearly over.  As for Vlad, he missed 24 games, where he made about $5.2 million for the year.  This works out to about $64,000 per game.  So he was entitled to $1.5 million in salary for those 24 games and Radmanovic was docked about 33% of it.  

Perhaps in light of this past history, Chris Mullin thought that he would be a nice guy to Ellis.  But based upon past history, a 33% to 50% fine in salary for missed games would’ve been a reasonable gesture.  Mullin’s generous notion of total forgiveness, however, was way outside those parameters.  Rowell has been criticized in the press for being heavy handed and for undercutting Mullin but I frankly don’t see how Mullin could justify his position, particularly since we don’t even know the nature and extent of Ellis’ injuries yet (Rowell did state that he never thought of seeking to void the contract).  With $66 million invested in Ellis, Rowell was acting properly in trying to protect the Warriors’ rights, though he probably should’ve been a bit more tactful in how he much contempt he had for Mullin’s position.  

As for part two, whether that contempt bodes poorly to Mullin’s future when his contract expires at the end of the year, I’m not so sure.  One could (and can) plausibly recognize that deciding purely money/contract issues is outside of Mullin’s sphere of decision making.  But those in the know seem to think that this is not the first time Rowell and Mullin butted heads and thus this is an indication of other problems.  This may be true but I tend to think that Rowell is completely in the right on the Ellis issue.   

2.    Lockout Anniversary:     While I’ve come to accept the fact that the old Magic Johnson Lakers and even the old Michael Jordan Bulls are fading into deeper history, I’m a little dismayed that events that seem very recent are, in fact, becoming dated.  One of those events was the painful NBA lockout of 1998-99, which lasted from the end of the 1997-98 season until January 1999 and only finally ended when the players, with the notable exception of Kobe Bryant, gave in to a hard salary cap on individual earnings.  This was followed by a manic flurry of transactions as free agents were signed and/or traded and then some really rusty basketball and, for the first time, a corpulent Shawn Kemp.  The season was a low point for the NBA, as the historically poor team stats that season show that the teams were not playing up to usual standards.  Still, the season had some fun points: the emergence of Vince Carter, the Spurs’ run to the title, and the Knicks crazy playoff wins over the Heat and Pacers. 

How many players are left from that season?  Not nearly as many as you’d think.  Just for fun, let’s take a look at the still active NBA players from that season: 

Atlanta Hawks: Dikembe Mutombo, Anthony Johnson

Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, Tony Battie, Bruce Bowen, Damon Jones

Cleveland Cavaliers: Earl Boykins, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Derek Anderson

Chicago Bulls: Brent Barry

Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash

Denver Nuggets:  Antonio McDyess, Chauncey Billups, Raef LaFrentz,

Detroit Pacers: Jerry Stackhouse, Lindsey Hunter, Mikki Moore

Golden State Warriors: Donyell Marshall, Antawn Jamison, Erick Dampier, Adonal Foyle

Houston Rockets: Cuttino Mobley, Othella Harrington

Indiana Pacers: Austin Croshere, Al Harrington

Los Angeles Clippers: Darrick Martin, Brian Skinner

Los Angeles Lakers: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Eddie Jones, Robert Horry, Ty Lue

Miami Heat: P.J. Brown, Alonzo Mourning

Milwaukee Bucks: Ray Allen, Tim Thomas, Sam Cassell

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett, Joe Smith, Bobby Jackson,

New York Knicks:  Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby

New Jersey Nets: Stephon Marbury,

Orlando Magic: Michael Doleac, Bo Outlaw

Philadelphia 76ers: Allen Iverson, Theo Ratliff, Larry Hughes, Eric Snow, Nazr Mohammed, Anthony Parker

Phoenix Suns: Jason Kidd, Pat Garrity,

Portland Trail Blazers: Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Jermaine O’Neal, Bonzi Wells

Sacramento Kings: Jason Williams, Peja Stojakovic, Scot Pollard, Jerome James

San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, Malik Rose, Antonio Daniels

Seattle SuperSonics: Rashard Lewis, Aaron Williams, Jelani McCoy

Toronto Raptors: Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady

Utah Jazz: Jacque Vaughn

Vancouver Grizzlies: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Bibby

Washington Wizards: Juwan Howard, Ben Wallace, Jeff McInnis

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