According to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, Monta Ellis will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks after turning down a two-year extension worth $24 million and is interested in playing alongside the Lakers’ Dwight Howard:
Monta Ellis has informed the Milwaukee Bucks that he will opt out of the last year of his deal, according to league sources.
Ellis, who had one year, $11 million left on his contract, will become one of the most coveted free agents on the market this summer.
Sources say the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers have interest in Ellis, although the Lakers could get Ellis only via an unlikely sign-and-trade deal.
Ellis, who originally signed a six-year, $66 million deal with the Golden State Warriors, is close with Lakers free agent Dwight Howard. The two have long desired to play together.
If Howard cannot achieve his top goal of playing with Chris Paul, teaming up with Ellis may become an option he would strongly consider.
Los Angeles’ supposed interest in Ellis baffles me. The thought of him and Kobe Bryant playing in the same lineup or even on the same team is enough to send a twinge of pain down the back of your spine. It’s so befuddling that I almost want it to happen just to see what would transpire.
Believing this could happen is admittedly whimsical, though. The Lakers have more than $78 million committed in payroll next season without Howard on the books. Only way this goes down is via a sign-and-trade.
My question then becomes: Who in the hell do the Lakers have that Milwaukee would want?
Constructing a deal around Pau Gasol could work financially if the Lakers want to take back another contract—unless of course they’re willing to give Ellis max money, also known as “making a mistake.” Metta World Peace’s salary could be comparable, but I’ve yet to come up with a reason why the Bucks would be interested in that. Dealing Steve Nash would make it financially feasible as well (though other pieces would be needed), but why in God’s name would the Lakers do that?
There’s too many moving parts and what ifs at play here. Not to mention the Lakers also need to figure out how much Ellis—who earned $11 million this past season—is worth. I have my doubts about him being worth eight figures at all. High seven figures makes more sense.
Yes, Ellis did average 19.2 points and six assists per game this past season, but he also shot just 41.6 percent from the field and posted a PER of 16.2, only slightly above the league average of 15.
Assuming an accord could be agreed upon (doubtful), taking on Ellis would be an indication of Howard’s return. The Orlando Magic attempted to acquire Ellis last season in a failed attempt to appease Dwight. Bringing in one of his friends would make the Lakers heavy favorites to re-sign him.
At the same time, if you’re Dwight, why do you want the Lakers to cut into their precious cap space leading into next summer for a player like Ellis? Are you against winning championships?
Ellis has yet to play next to a savvy pool of veterans who could teach him restraint and help him expand his horizons, something the Lakers have the ability to provide. Yet, he’s always fallen short of being considered a star. And you don’t risk future financial flexibility, you don’t mortgage your ability to sign LeBron James for a player who is almost a star. You just don’t.
So let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The odds are stacked against the Lakers at almost every turn possible in their alleged pursuit of Ellis. Which, if we’re brutally honest, may be a good thing.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.