SBD/Issue 20/Franchises

Ellis' Suspension Shows Potential Warriors Front Office Rift

Warriors Execs Disagree On Ellis' 
30-Game Suspension
Warriors President Robert Rowell Saturday announced that G Monta Ellis "will be suspended 30 games for violating the terms of his player contract when he injured himself in a moped mishap this summer," according to Janny Hu of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Ellis signed a six-year contract just weeks before the August accident and "will lose roughly $3[M] of his annual $11[M] salary." Rowell's "decision did not come without dissent from both inside and outside the organization." Rowell acknowledged Warriors Exec VP/Basketball Operations Chris Mullin's "opposition to a severe penalty" and added Ellis' agent, Jeff Fried, was "not in complete alignment" with the suspension (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/12). Rowell said that Mullin "did not consider the incident a big deal, adding that was not the opinion of upper management." Rowell said that the Warriors "never considered voiding Ellis' contract ... but could not ignore the incident" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 10/12). 

TOP AUTHORITY: In San Jose, Tim Kawakami wrote the Warriors' "top brass was most assuredly not going to pardon Monta Ellis for his scooter-crash sins or exercise any amount of mercy that would leave the franchise vulnerable or looking weak." Rowell was "all about maintaining face and showing strength." It was "about showing everybody who's boss, who's running things, who steers this ship." Rowell: "Chris Mullin made it perfectly clear to both [Warriors 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. We happen to think that it's a big deal for our fans, it's a big deal for our season ticket-holders, it's a big deal for our business partners, it's a big deal for the Warriors organization." Kawakami wrote, "That sounds like there's front-office tension there, you think?" The "new alpha force of the Warriors? It's Rowell, whose quiet voice and grimhinting ruled this day so thoroughly that even [Warriors coach Don Nelson] wanted no part of the discussion." Nelson said, "That's really not my territory." Kawakami: "No question, Rowell could've gone further and completely voided Ellis' deal. But that might have made Ellis an unrestricted free agent, and the Warriors wanted to keep him on the roster." But Kawakami wondered if the team "can still void the deal if he doesn't fully recover." Ultimately, Rowell "is the one who will decide when Ellis passes contractual muster." As Rowell's "power has grown, Mullin appears to be making fewer of the big decisions with the Warriors," and Rowell "doesn't mind that perception at all" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/12).

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