The Golden State Warriors host a Christmas Day nightcap against the new-look Los Angeles Clippers when the NBA opens its regular season on Sunday. But the team’s starting backcourt — the team’s strongest asset — is already facing adversity.

A former Golden State Warriors employee has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against star guard Monta Ellis. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

And while shooting guard Monta Ellis is healthy, he now faces a sexual harassment lawsuit. On Wednesday, former Warriors employee Erika Ross Smith filed a lawsuit against the 26-year-old Ellis for allegedly sending unwanted texts of a sexual nature — including a photo of his genitals. Smith’s lawsuit also names the team.

The Warriors denied the allegations, claiming Smith and Ellis had a “consensual relationship.”

Smith’s attorney, Burt Boltuch, said his client continues to suffer “emotional distress and trauma” from dozens of explicit messages spanning from Nov. 2010 to Jan. 2011 while Smith worked for Golden State’s community relations office.

“She was embarrassed. She was intimidated. She felt scared and helpless.”

According to Boltuch, Smith rejected Ellis’ advances and, last December, after Ellis had complained to the Warriors about Smith’s job description, she received a photo of the player’s genitalia.

Attorney Burt Boltuch, left, announces a sexual harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of plaintiff Erika Smith, right, against the Golden State Warriors' Monta Ellis. (Laura A. Oda/AP)

In a prepared statement issued Wednesday, Warriors’ president and chief operating officer Rick Welts disputed Smith’s claims.

“When we were made aware of a consensual relationship between Mr. Ellis and the Plaintiff, we did what an organization should do. We told both to stop — promptly, directly and fairly. The Warriors have never taken action against the Plaintiff for any inappropriate reason, and we deny the allegations she is making.”

Smith, who has also worked for the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns, said coming forward was difficult because, “I knew that essentially my career is over.”

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