Monta is leaving! What’s next for Dallas?

Monte Ellis. It was good while it lasted. Wish you could keep playing in your prime for Dallas.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By DaVince “Dino” Wright

Monta Ellis has opted out of the final year of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks and will become a free agent this summer.

While sitting in my office, I am reading the newspaper having a cup of coffee on a cool morning in Denver. The Denver Post never covers the Texas teams, so I thought seeing a Dallas Maverick article was strange. To my surprise, I see a headline saying, “Monta Ellis is opting out of his Dallas contract.” Wait, Dallas is a premier NBA city because of the ownership and fan base. It’s like being in a college setting where every game is a sellout. How could he turn down almost 9 million dollars next season? Why would he even consider leaving? On June 9 the Mavericks were in talks with the Ellis camp almost ensuring him that he would have a long term deal in place this summer. What went wrong with the plan? This draft isn’t deep with quality shooting guards that can play immediately, but there’s a few good college prospects.

The Mavericks aren’t expected to pursue Ellis, but the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are interested in acquiring the mercurial guard. Ellis has never been shy on offense, and a move away from Dallas should open the flood gates for a bidding war. If you’re paying attention to trade wires, there aren’t many reliable scorers in the league with experience. We will continue to monitor this story closely, but it looks like Ellis could be wearing a different uniform during the 2015-16 season. If you look at the depth chart for the Mavs at shooting guard, the next shooting guard on the roster is J. J. Barea. He plays big in spurts, but he’s undersized on the defensive end which allows mediocre players to post him up. How can the Mavericks boost their scoring without a shooting guard? They can look at the draft or trading blocks.

This decision has been rumored for many weeks, and Ellis finally made his intentions clear just a day before the 2015 NBA Draft. The 29-year-old should provide an instant boost wherever he lands, with Indiana and Miami the reported early favorites to negotiate with Ellis. Regardless of where he ends up, Ellis will remain a viable option across all formats after completing his third-straight season where he played at least 80 games while averaging a minimum of 34 minutes per contest. Ellis finished his second season in Dallas leading the team in both scoring and assists with 18.9 points and 4.1 assists per game. He played in 80 regular season games and all five of Dallas’ postseason contests this past season. Word is he’s not looking to leave Dallas, where he remade his reputation with last season’s strong showing before this season’s ups and downs, but Ellis also has the ability to opt out and become a free agent after playing for the (relative) bargain price of $8 million (and change) in each of the past two seasons.‎

Passing on the opportunity to test the market and see if he can land a more lucrative annual salary was too hard to resist. But the Dallas decision-makers have to determine whether the moody Ellis, who often tested the team’s soul this season, is worth the headaches he presents and the hefty price they would have to pay to have any hope of keeping him happy. With Ellis declining his option, it gives Dallas the cap freedom to explore more free agents this summer.

Ellis will get the opportunity to score what could end up being the last major contract of his career. It’s certainly an opportune time, with the salary cap projected to increase exponentially over the next three years. He could easily play another six seasons barring injury. You have to remember that he didn’t play college ball – he was drafted out of high school. That gives him the edge of a longer playing career than other players who played four years in college.

It’s a good time to be a shooter in the prime of your career in the NBA. Ellis certainly hopes he can take advantage of the exploding market and find a situation that will best utilize his skills.

Flash forward to the future… Top shooting guards available in draft are: Kelly Oubre from Kansas, D`Angelo Russell, Devin Booker, Rashad Vaughn and Justin Anderson. These guys are players who can help the Mavericks from the start of training camp to the end of the season.

Let’s see what the brain trust for the Mavs has in store for the fans.