<
>

Mavs bid or bye: Monta Ellis

D.Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images

Fourth in a series of 10 examining the likelihood of each of the pending free agents from the 2014-15 roster returning to the Dallas Mavericks.

2014-15 stats: 18.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 44.5 field goal percentage, 28.5 3-point percentage in 33.7 minutes per game.

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.

That’s not to say the Mavs can’t change their minds if their other options become less and less attractive as the free agency market develops. After all, that’s how Ellis ended up in Dallas in the first place, with the Mavs drastically increasing their offer to the guard only after they discovered that Devin Harris had a serious toe injury that required surgery, causing them to withdraw an offer to Harris to create cap space to sign Ellis to a three-year, $25 million deal.

But Ellis isn’t a part of the Mavs’ Plan A or 1A.

If the Mavs sign LaMarcus Aldridge, their next top priority will be keeping Tyson Chandler. That would eat up the vast majority, if not all, of their remaining cap space, forcing the Mavs to fill their starting backcourt for next season in thrifty fashion.

If the Mavs sign DeAndre Jordan, they’d attempt to fill Ellis’ spot in the starting lineup with a bigger, better defender with the perimeter shooting ability to space the floor offensively. San Antonio’s Danny Green and Portland’s Wesley Matthews are the two best fits available in free agency this summer, although Matthews might not be ready to start the season as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon.

The Mavs would likely try to take the 3-and-D route at shooting guard even if they aren’t successful in this summer’s attempt to finally hook a big fish in free agency. They don’t expect to be able to replace Ellis with a go-to guy as dynamic off the dribble as him.

But the Mavs believe they can get much more from small forward Chandler Parsons, their big catch from last summer, if he isn’t paired with Ellis. That’s because Ellis has to have the ball in his hands to be effective -- and the Mavs ran the lion’s share of plays for him -- preventing Parsons from doing what he does best. Parsons was one of the league's most efficient pick-and-roll ball handlers last season but got a small fraction of chances to initiate the offense compared to Ellis.

It also didn’t help matters that Ellis and Parsons didn’t click off the court, an issue many within the organization suspect was influenced by Ellis’ bitterness about Parsons being paid almost twice as much as he was.

Parsons, who is expected to be fully recovered from knee surgery by the start of next season, has all but begged for more playmaking opportunities. His comments the day after the Mavs were eliminated can be considered a strong hint that he’d be fine with Ellis’ exit.

“Next year I hope for a much bigger role,” Parsons said during his exit interview with the media. “I want the ball in my hands. I want good players around me.”

Ellis is a good player. But he’s not a good fit for the Mavs at this point, especially if his price soars as he surely hopes it will this summer.