The Indiana Pacers want to play faster in 2015-2016. It’s no surprise, then, that Larry Bird is dead-set on bringing in the free agent who could his help team accomplish that goal more than any other.
The market for Ellis will be among the more interesting storylines of July for NBA obsessives. The 29-year-old is coming off two successful seasons with the Dallas Mavericks during which he repaired his previously fractured image. He averaged a 18.9 points and 4.1 assists per game on 44.5 percent shooting in 2014-2015, solid numbers just slightly below those he compiled one year prior.
Still, Ellis’ game is a somewhat awkward fit in the modern NBA. He’s woefully undersized for a shooting guard, doesn’t have consistent three-point range, and his defensive engagement often leaves a lot to be desired. In a perfect world, the 2007 Most Improved Player of the Year would come off the bench for a contender to provide instant offense. It seems unlikely, however, that the occasionally combative Ellis would be receptive to such a role, let alone the comparatively lesser salary that imminently goes along with it.
Enter the Pacers, a franchise in transition that’s less than 18 months removed from being a top-tier title contender. Bird and Frank Vogel have stressed the need to increase tempo ever since the end of 2014-2015, and adding Ellis would certainly go a long way toward accomplishing that shift in identity. It’s easy to imagine the defensive prowess of George Hill and Paul George mitigating his weaknesses on that end of the floor, too.
Fit is the factor from which this potential signing likely hinges. Like the vast majority of franchises, Indy will have hordes of cap space to play with next summer as the salary cap spikes to $90 million. If Vogel imagines Ellis as the key cog in his new attack that Bird apparently does, a deal between player and team only seems a matter of time.
[Via Adrian Wojnarowski]