Ellis has a Wednesday deadline to determine whether he wants to make $8.7 million in the final season of his three-year, $25 million offer or test the free-agent market.
Ellis, 29, averaged 18.9 points per game last season to become the first player other than Dirk Nowitzki to lead the Mavericks in scoring since 1999-2000 and averaged 4.1 assists per game. However, his moodiness has been cited by several team sources as a significant factor in the Mavs' chemistry issues last season, which ended with a first-round loss to the Houston Rockets.
If Ellis opts in, Dallas would attempt to trade him for a draft pick, a source said, allowing the Mavs to maximize their cap space entering free agency.
Dallas intends to pursue All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and third-team All-NBA center DeAndre Jordan in free agency, hoping to sign one of them to a max contract. If Ellis' salary isn't on the books, the Mavs likely will have enough cap space to re-sign center Tyson Chandler to pair with Aldridge or a shooting guard who is a better fit with small forward Chandler Parsons if Jordan comes to Dallas.
The 6-foot-3 Ellis, an undersized shooting guard who is one of the league's most dynamic off-the-dribble threats, played a key role in the Mavs winning a total of 99 games and advancing to the playoffs in each of the past two seasons after Dallas' one-year postseason absence.
But Dallas doesn't intend to give Ellis the raise he'd want if he tests free agency, sources said. The Mavs, who plan to use Parsons as more of a point forward in the second season of his three-year, $46 million deal, want to have a bigger shooting guard who is a better defender and 3-point threat than Ellis. Potential fits in free agency include Danny Green and Wesley Matthews.
Ellis, a 10-year veteran, has a career scoring average of 19.3 points per game, the highest in NBA history among players who have never been an All-Star.
Ellis signed with the Mavs in the summer of 2013 after declining an $11 million player option for the final season of his previous contract and turning down a three-year, $36 million to remain with the Milwaukee Bucks. Dallas didn't have the cap space to sign Ellis to the three-year, $25 million deal until discovering that Devin Harris had a serious toe injury that required surgery, prompting the Mavs to take the offer to Harris off the table and significantly increase their offer to Ellis.