That much was obvious on Monday, when I sat down with a refreshingly-candid Monta Ellis to discuss the Golden State guard's past, present and future with the Warriors for a story that was published last night. But giving Monta the mic meant some of the involved parties around him didn't get to be heard. So we present this GSW version of "The Bonus," where we empty the notebook as it pertains to the sometimes-controversial, oft-quiet and clearly-changed sixth-year player.
Warriors assistant coach Stephen Silas is the resident authority on Ellis and his new-and-improved state of mind, and he said Ellis has been practicing what he's preaching. Silas spent two weeks at Ellis' Memphis, Tenn. home this summer, staying with him at his request on two separate occasions to work on his game. During that time, Silas -- who has had his hands full this summer after three assistant coaches left town -- saw a much different version of Ellis.
"I'd say the No. 1 thing that came out of this summer for me is how much Monta has grown up (compared to) the last year or two years," said Silas, who is entering his fifth season with Golden State. "He has grown up from that (moped) situation and how he got hurt and all that to bounce back and become a man who is taking a lot of responsibility for his game.
"He was a lot more serious (than before). He wanted me to bring film, so we were watching film for like an hour one night. I showed him different places on the floor where he gets his shots and his percentages from those spots year to year, and he was really receptive to it. I'm not so sure how receptive he would've been when he first came into the league."
When it came to the topic of Ellis and his relationship with second-year guard Stephen Curry, Silas was as curious as anyone else where the two players' relationship stood.
"I got a really good sense from him on that," Silas said. "I would say his favorite player on the team right now is Steph. And to go from media day last year to where he is now is something. That's one of the only guys he'll contact during the summer."
And one of the guys he would watch play, too.
"We'd be watching Team USA games on TV and (Ellis) is saying, 'Man, Steph should be playing more,'" Silas said. "It's exciting to see how far he has come in just a year. Steph has done a lot to help that, but Monta has been really, really different when it comes to that whole situation."
Yet regardless of Ellis' mindset, there remains the most relevant of realities: he could be on his way out if the right deal comes along or if the backcourt gets off to a bad start.
Entering the offseason, Golden State general manager Larry Riley would say only that it was "pretty likely" Ellis would be on the 2010-11 roster. He's still with the team five months later, although the uncertainty about his place within the organization remains.
One source close to the team reports that soon-to-be owner Joe Lacob is open to the idea of trading Ellis in part because of his sizable contract ($44 million over the next four seasons) and also because of concerns about whether having the smallest of guards in the backcourt is a championship formula. Both Lacob and fellow soon-to-be owner Peter Guber will be monitoring the backcourt situation in terms of productivity and chemistry very closely, you can be sure.
The Warriors are expected to be among the more-aggressive teams in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes if and when they officially begin, but any notion that Ellis could be a core piece of any such deal for the disgruntled Denver star is unlikely, says a source with knowledge of the Nuggets' thinking, because Denver would almost certainly demand that Curry was the guard coming its way (which isn't likely to happen either). But a good start to this season could do wonders to change perceptions, and Riley claims he is already noticing the change in Ellis.
"(We) were in contact all summer, and there was a feeling of commitment that I got from (Ellis)," Riley said. "He made that commitment to (work with Silas in Memphis), then made a commitment to come back (to Oakland) for what -- to my knowledge -- is the earliest he has ever been here.
"And I think some people think that Steph has tried to bring Monta into the fold, but it works both ways. Monta has been equally ready to embrace Steph ... (Ellis) has made a lot of steps in the right direction."
There were a few final interesting insights from Ellis that didn't make the story as well.
On his recovery from the moped accident and whether he or the Warriors doubted he would return to full form...
"Not me (he was asked if he had doubts). First of all, I had a great doctor who did the surgery. That's one thing. For two, with me when I go through injuries it's not like with other people. My healing and my gift that I have is a gift from God. I knew what mindset I had to have to get back on the court because I know the game of basketball. With me, (getting fully healthy) wasn't ever a problem. There were some days when you'd wake up and your ankle is hurting to a point where you couldn't do nothing, but the doctor told you that (would happen). They let you know the side effects. (His recovery was aided) by my wife, the physical therapist, just the positive people who were around me at that time who kept my head level."
On the unknown future of coach Don Nelson and whether he would like to see him back (the two have had their share of battles over the years, to be sure)...
"It's out of our hands when you're dealing with upstairs, when you're dealing with the coach and all that. Whatever happens happens. I'd love to have him back, to finish the last year with us. I know we're going to make history this year, and I'd love for him to be a part of that. But at the same time, whatever decision they make upstairs is their decision and we've got to go forward."
And for those who made it to the end here, you shall be rewarded with this video clip of Ellis working on his long-range game just before we sat down to talk.
E-mail Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @samickAOL.