Will The Punishment Fit The Crime?

By Tim Kawakami
Updated: September 13, 2008

SAN JOSE, Ca. — Eventually, the Monta Ellis matter will land on Chris Cohan’s desk, after it goes through the medical evaluation, the basketball office, the lawyers’ analysis and the tippy-top of the Warriors’ executive hierarchy.

Ultimately, the Warriors’ owner has to decide whether and how to punish Ellis for wrecking his left ankle in a non-approved activity and then initially lying about the circumstances.

Cohan is responsible for the $66 million owed to Ellis under the terms of his new six-year contract. Ellis is responsible to Cohan if Ellis cannot and did not meet those terms.

All indications are that the Warriors believe Ellis can return to high-level basketball at some point and understand that he is young and did one foolish thing that cost him.

But when you realize it is all on Cohan and team president Robert Rowell, it’s clear that some consequential punishment will be handed down.

Educated guessing: The eventual punishment will be something more than the $500,000 fine the Lakers leveled on Vladimir Radmanovic after his snowboard accident (and initial lying) in 2007, and it will be a great deal less than voiding Ellis’ deal.

More educated guessing: The decision will be announced next week — separate from the team’s Sept. 26 training camp re-gathering — and Ellis will issue a statement saying he accepts and understands it.

That’s all Cohan and Ellis. Once the penalty is announced (does $2 million sound right?), it’s back to basketball and recovery time and Ellis’ credibility with his general manager, coach and teammates.

But until then, it’s about an owner, $66 million and a wounded player.