As anti-Monta, Matthews a perfect fit for Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks didn’t want Monta Ellis despite all the points he scored during their two-season marriage of convenience. The Mavs wanted an anti-Monta.

The Mavs wanted Wesley Matthews despite the left Achilles tendon he tore in March, targeting him from the moment free agency officially opened, when he dined with Dallas coach Rick Carlisle and athletic trainer Casey Smith in Los Angeles.

The Mavs got their man at shooting guard despite the Sacramento Kings making a much higher bid, offering Matthews a four-year, $64 million deal. The value of the four-year deal with Dallas, which received a verbal commitment from Matthews late Thursday night, will depend on whether the Mavs also land DeAndre Jordan (or much less likely, LaMarcus Aldridge) but is expected to average at least $13 million per year.

Ellis received a four-year, $44 million deal from the Indiana Pacers, also turning down a more lucrative offer from sad-sack Sacramento. His departure from Dallas was not a financial decision for the franchise. It was all about fit.

The Mavs came to the harsh realization that Ellis and Chandler Parsons, last summer’s prized addition, simply couldn’t form a healthy partnership. There were basketball problems between the pair. There were also business problems that bled into personal issues.

Those problems turn into positives with Matthews, who has proven himself to be one of the NBA’s premier 3-and-D players, replacing Ellis in the Mavs’ starting lineup.

Ellis, one of the league’s most explosive off-the-dribble creators, has to have the offense run through him on a regular basis and he doesn’t shoot well enough to space the floor when the ball isn’t in his hands. In other words, his presence prevented Parsons from being the point forward that the Mavs envisioned when they gave him a three-year, $46 million deal a year ago.

That contract didn’t go over well with Ellis, who didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for Parsons’ arrival in Dallas and opted out of the final season of his three-year, $25 million deal this summer. The Mavs felt that the only chance for Ellis to be happy in Dallas was to pay him more than Parsons, a price they considered far too high for a moody, one-dimensional, undersized shooting guard despite his frequent scoring brilliance.

Matthews, on the other hand, wants to play with Parsons. They had those discussions along with Jordan in the days leading up to free agency in L.A., where Parsons went to recruit and rehab alongside Matthews.

On the floor, Matthews couldn’t be a better fit for the potential Parsons/Jordan pick-and-roll partnership. There are few more prolific 3-point shooters than Matthews, who has knocked down 39.3 percent of his long-range shots over his career. As MavsOutsider.com math whiz Bryan Gutierrez noted, Stephen Curry and Kyle Korver are the only players to hit more 3s over the last five years than Matthews, who averaged 15.4 points per game during his five-year Portland tenure, proof that his offensive arsenal isn’t limited to catch-and-shoot opportunities.

Acquiring the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Matthews is also a major upgrade on the defensive end for Dallas. He’s a smart, relentless defender who can take the challenge of guarding the opponent’s best wing every night.

That clearly wasn’t the case with Ellis, whose issues on that end of the floor can be much better masked in Indiana, where he’ll be flanked by two very good, versatile defenders in George Hill and Paul George. Ellis should also be a good fit for the scoring-challenged Pacers, who needed another creator.

The Mavs didn’t want to replace Ellis with a similar player, although they will need to find a low-cost point guard who can create some shots. Dallas wanted to go in a completely different direction.

That path led them to Matthews, a perfect fit if healthy. And therein lies the huge risk for the Mavs, considering Matthews is coming off one of the most serious injuries an athlete can suffer.

The Mavs were happy to gamble on Matthews, a 28-year-old with a work ethic approaching Kobe-level. They had good intel in his impressive progress in rehab and consider his intention to play in the season opener to be a realistic goal. The Mavs also have one of the most respected athletic trainers in sports in Smith, who also works for Team USA, and are on the cutting edge of medical technology thanks to owner Mark Cuban’s interest and investments.

Plus, let’s be brutally honest: The Mavs didn’t have many other choices. Their other top 3-and-D target was Danny Green, who re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs on the first day of free agency. Iman Shumpert, a Plan B target, quickly re-upped with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Matthews was the one available shooting guard who fit the puzzle the Mavs are trying to put together. Fortunately for the Mavs, Matthews wanted to be in Dallas enough to leave a lot of money on the table.