Former Warriors assistant GM explains how former owner declined trading Monta Ellis
Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk spoke with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on his podcast, providing a juicy anecdote of his time as assistant GM for the Golden State Warriors, explaining just how the team once had impasses in trading former star Monta Ellis.
Schlenk, who was previously part of the coaching staff and later convinced to join the front office due to his eye for talent, had banked on a conditional promise with then-general manager Larry Riley to trade Ellis and another player in hopes to develop Stephen Curry and other young players.
“One moment (that) really changed the course of everything — there was a trade that we wanted to do,” said Schlenk. “And we were sitting down with the owner at that time, Chris Cohan. And we said we think we should do this trade — we’re getting back two guys, it frees up our cap, it’s gonna allow the growth of Steph. And Chris said, ‘We can’t do that trade. Player X is the most popular player we have, and season-ticket renewals (are) around the corner.’
“And I was just like, you gotta be kidding me. We are gonna make this decision based on who our fans think should be on our team, not the guys that you’ve hired to put together the team?”
At this point, Woj interjects and says, ‘This was the Bucks, right?”
“No, this wasn’t the Bucks,” Schlenk answered. “I don’t want to name the players. So, we didn’t do the trade. And then later on we were able to do a trade with that player that brought us Andrew Bogut. And that was obviously a big piece of the championship puzzle.
“As they say, sometimes the best deals you do are the ones you don’t do.”
As Schlenk tells is, it’s easy to recall how different the Warriors have looked over the years just by having different ownership.
The Warriors first had plans to trade Ellis, their leading scorer and the only clear remnant of the “We Believe” era, to a different team, but it wasn’t until the sale of the team went through that Schlenk was able to capitalize on his plan.
Following the timeline of events, it’s likely this trade was proposed during the start of the 2010-11 season or the offseason before that campaign, as Joe Lacob and Peter Guber didn’t win the bid until Nov. 12, 2010.
After getting familiar with Lacob, the front office was able to devise another trade, one that at the time seemed crazy. But looking back at it, it’s clear it was the rational way to bring the team to greener pastures.