The Dallas Mavericks will look very different next year, that’s for sure. Rajon Rondo, the failed experiment, is gone, and Monta Ellis, who had one optional year left on his contract, has opted out and will become a free agent, according to his former agent(?) Jeff Fried and reported by ESPN. It’s not a shocking development, considering the Mavericks all but pushed him out the door:
Unsurprisingly, Fried said Monta’s decision “was more about him taking his future into his own hands.” Obviously, Monta would rather be able to choose his next team than have it decided for him based on who has the requisite cap space to sign him. The only downside for Monta is that he’ll likely miss out on the salary cap’s astronomical rise in the next two offseasons, unless he can get a one- or two-year deal somewhere. Then again, he’s 29 years old, which looks a lot nicer on a free agent contract than 30 or 31. Now may be the time to lock down his big deal, when teams are confident it won’t hurt them in the coming years.
Now the question is where he will go. Ellis said he wouldn’t mind returning to Dallas, where he improved his reputation and showed he can be part of a super-efficient offense with the right team around him. In a Mavericks uniform, Ellis improved his shot selection and became a slightly better distributor, but he’s still not a point guard. He’s an undersized shooting guard who’s overqualified to fulfill his destiny as a bench scorer a la Jamal Crawford, and hasn’t shown any indication that he’d be willing to accept a bench role.
Even if he was (and if a real contender asked, maybe he’d chase a ring on a short deal), his production and previous salaries means he’d get starter money, and he was not happy when Rondo arrived in Dallas to take the ball out of his hands. So, if he’s not going back to Dallas, then where will he go?
Though the Kings have been connected with Ellis’ BFF Rondo, failing to bring him aboard would still leave a need in the backcourt for them, and Sacramento has been a home to volume shooters for a while now. Charlotte is desperate for scoring, maybe the Suns miss Isaiah Thomas after all.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard is reporting a juicier possibility:
Because of Ellis’ reputation as a moody guy, it’s not as easy to point to a team with cap space and say they’ll be interested. But Monta is talented, and mostly has avoided any signs of decline with age. He’ll find a place to play, and start, and get paid well for it.