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Warriors G Ellis out 3 months with ankle sprain

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[August 28, 2008]  OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Golden State guard Monta Ellis will be sidelined for at least three months after severely spraining his ankle during an offseason workout, forcing the Warriors to start the season without the player expected to lead their revamped roster this fall.

Ellis, who got a six-year contract extension worth $66 million on July 24, sprained his ankle and tore a deltoid ligament while working out in his hometown of Jackson, Miss., last Thursday, said Chris Mullin, the Warriors' top basketball executive.

DonutsEllis underwent surgery Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala., to repair the ligament, and returned home later in the day. Ellis' ankle will be immobilized for six weeks, followed by at least six weeks of off-court rehabilitation before the guard can return to basketball workouts.

"He's one of our main guys, but we don't think it's a season-ending injury," Mullin said. "The time frame, it fluctuates, but hopefully with his youth -- and he's been pretty durable and resilient to injury -- hopefully he does get back (soon).

"With the offseason moves we made, hopefully we can still play at a high level this year. To me, it's more something that you look at as a challenge, and you don't let it defeat you, you deal with it."


Ellis averaged 20.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season, all career bests, while emerging as a dependable shooter for the league's highest-scoring club.

He will miss training camp and the Warriors' preseason schedule, which includes a trip to China, along with at least the first month of the regular season.

"Training camp was going to be an important part of his development," Mullin said. "That's going to be postponed, obviously, but he's got a lot of development on and off the court that he's going to continue to do. I've got a lot of confidence in him, and now his job is to get healthy."

Golden State's training camp opens Sept. 27.

Ellis, the winner of the NBA's most improved player award in 2006-07, is expected to play a major role this season for the Warriors after Baron Davis' abrupt departure for the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent. Golden State showed its commitment with a huge contract extension for Ellis, who is likely to assume Davis' role as the point guard and catalyst of coach Don Nelson's uptempo offense.

In Ellis' absence, new point guard Marcus Williams is likely to get the first chance to run Nelson's show -- although Mullin also will travel to Chicago on Thursday to take a look at former Clippers guard Shaun Livingston, the unrestricted free agent who hasn't played since injuring his left knee in a game on Feb. 26, 2007.

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Golden State acquired Williams in a trade with New Jersey last month to be Ellis' backup. Williams, the former UConn star entering his third NBA campaign, averaged 5.9 points and 2.6 assists in 53 games with the Nets last season.

"Just in talking to Nellie today, (we're) talking about maybe spreading that ball around and getting scoring from different areas," Mullin said, mentioning more shots for Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington and newcomer Corey Maggette. "Marcus is more of a pass-first point guard. If at some point he thought he didn't get a chance (in New Jersey), he's going to get a chance now."

Guard Kelenna Azubuike also is likely to get more playing time with the Warriors, who missed the playoffs last season despite winning 48 games. Golden State shuffled much of its roster in the wake of Davis' departure, signing Maggette and forward Ronny Turiaf while losing forwards Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes.

Health Care

Mullin wasn't certain whether Ellis hurt himself in a 5-on-5 scrimmage or a smaller pickup game. Although Mullin still is the same inveterate gym rat he was during his All-Star playing career, he shares most NBA executives' wariness about their players' offseason health in such risky workouts.

"I'm all for guys training and getting better," Mullin said. "Ideally, I'd like everybody here (in Oakland) all the time, but that's not realistic. I think one thing Monta has done each and every year is improve, and I do believe most improvement is made during the summer. That's when guys do get better, so I can't debate that."

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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