Parsons must prove letting Monta go is right move

The Dallas Mavericks have decided to move on without shooting guard Monta Ellis, the man who led them in scoring and moodiness last season.

It's up to last summer's prized addition, Chandler Parsons -- as a player and a recruiter -- to prove that this is a smart move.

The uncomfortable truth is that the Ellis-Parsons pairing just wasn't a good fit, on or off the court. The Mavs came to a couple of realizations toward the end of last season. First, to have any hope of keeping Ellis happy, they'd have to give him a contract at least as large as the three-year, $46 million deal Parsons signed last summer. Second, for Parsons to really earn his paychecks, Ellis had to go.

Ellis, who informed the Mavs of his decision to opt out of the final season of his deal Wednesday morning, scored like a go-to guy but wanted nothing to do with the rest of the responsibilities that come along with that role. As a result, the Mavs wanted nothing to do with paying Ellis like a premier player, preferring to use the cap space created in part by his departure to remodel the roster around Parsons.

The Mavs have always envisioned Parsons as a point forward. It just wasn't possible to feature him in that role with Ellis on the other wing.

That's because Ellis needs the ball in his hands possession after possession after possession. Just ask the Golden State Warriors, who wisely chose Stephen Curry over Ellis a few years ago when it became clear that the two guards couldn't co-exist on a contender.

That's not to suggest that Parsons is a future MVP who will be the face of the franchise for a championship team. But Parsons is certainly capable of providing the Mavs much more than he did last season, when he averaged 15.7 points and 2.4 assists per game while being forced into a complementary role as the vast majority of plays were called for Ellis.

According to Synergy Sports data, Parsons ranked among the NBA's elite in scoring efficiency as a pick-and-roll ballhandler last season but had a small fraction of Ellis' opportunities. Parsons' efficiency in those situations, the bread-and-butter of coach Rick Carlisle's flow system, came despite spacing issues created by playing with a pair of poor perimeter shooters (Ellis and Rajon Rondo) in the starting backcourt, which also negatively affected the small forward's assists totals.

What are the possibilities for Parsons if he's surrounded with capable shooters and has the ball in his hands more often? The Mavs hope to find out.

Parsons has to do his part this summer first, in rehab and as a recruiter. Parsons, who is expected to be fully recovered by a complicated arthroscopic knee surgery by the start of next season, prides himself on his elite persuasive skills that helped bring Dwight Howard to Houston. He'll join owner Mark Cuban as the Mavs' primary pitchmen this summer.

The top targets are third-team All-NBA center DeAndre Jordan and perennial All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, with the Mavs hoping to sign one of them to a max contract. Dallas is Aldridge's hometown, but Parsons likely has more pull with Jordan, who is also represented by agent Dan Fegan.

How the Mavs fill Ellis' spot in the starting lineup could depend largely on the big fishes in free agency.

If Aldridge comes to Dallas, the Mavs must spend most, if not all, of their remaining cap space on a center, preferably re-signing Tyson Chandler.

If they get Jordan -- or miss out on both top targets, hopefully keeping Chandler in that case -- the Mavs will look to invest in a shooting guard whose game would mesh well with Parsons'. In other words, they want a strong defender and 3-point shooter who is comfortable playing off the ball -- pretty much the polar opposite of Ellis. The top names on that list in this summer's free agency crop are Danny Green and Wesley Matthews.

The Mavs don't plan to spend big money on a point guard this summer. It's possible Devin Harris could start, but the Mavs would prefer to keep him with the second unit. The Mavs could also address this position in the draft. Two free agents to keep in mind: Mo Williams, a local resident who has expressed interest in playing for the Mavs before; and Jeremy Lin, Parsons' friend and former Houston Rockets teammate.

Ellis hopes to give a scoring punch to a playoff team next season. But the Mavs' call not to try to keep Ellis shouldn't be judged by the numbers he produces at his next stop.

It should be judged by the Mavs' success with Parsons playing a more prominent role on a roster he helps put together.