The Dallas Mavericks don’t get along with guards.
At least that’s how it seems these days. They sent Rajon Rondo packing midway through their first-round playoff series with the Houston Rockets, and now they’re lower than low on Monta Ellis, who, relative to his time with the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks, has played really well for them.
But Ellis can explore free agency this summer. He holds a player option worth $8.7 million for next season, a figure the Mavericks, in this free-agent climate, are likely more than happy to pay.
Anything higher, though, and they’re done.
From ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon:
Monta Ellis can make this a moot issue.
Ellis has until June 24 to decide whether to exercise his player option to be paid $8.72 million next season. The expectation remains that he will opt out of the final year of his contract and seek a healthy raise after leading the Mavs in scoring last season, although Ellis has kept his intentions quiet.
Ellis should not anticipate that raise coming from the Mavs, who would rather move on than make a major long-term investment in a one-dimensional player whose moodiness and selfishness negatively impacted the team’s chemistry last season, according to sources with knowledge of the front office’s thought process.
Oh. Em. Gee.
This is kind-of-sort-of super surprising. Ellis isn’t a superstar, and the Mavericks are traditionally smitten by bigger names, most of which they chase only to strike out on. But Ellis led the team in scoring this past season, and there’s a chance the Mavericks don’t land anyone better in free agency.
Plus, if they’re inability to land a high-profile point guard who fits their system and culture continues, they need Ellis’ playmaking. He doesn’t work especially well off the ball, making him an iffy fit alongside incumbent floor generals Devin Harris and J.J. Barea, but he can act as a pseudo-point guard himself—which is big, when your incumbent floor generals are Devin Harris and J.J. Barea.
Indeed, head coach Rick Carlisle is an expert at plugging point guards not named Rajon Rondo into his offense and sustaining an above-average output. But unless the Mavericks are wholly sure they’re going to land at least two uber-big names this summer, taking a cavalier approach to Ellis’ future seems a tad reckless, even for a risk-prone team like this one.
There’s a ton of time for this to unfold, to be sure. Free agency doesn’t start until July 1, and contracts cannot officially be signed until July 10, once the NBA’s moratorium period ends. So even if Ellis indicates he’ll opt out before then, his time in Dallas isn’t necessarily over.
One thing, however, remains certain: The Mavericks, be it because of who they sign or don’t sign, are a team to watch this summer.