NBA Trade Rumors: Five Teams That Should Trade For Monta Ellis
The Indiana Pacers are reportedly willing to trade shooting guard Monta Ellis. Which team should take advantage of the opportunity to acquire his services?
For an extended period of time, Monta Ellis was one of the most productive playmakers in the NBA. Between his stints with the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors, Ellis flirted with All-Star status on more than one occasion.
Just 21 games into his second lackluster season with the Indiana Pacers, however, the 31-year-old shooting guard appears to be in line for a severely needed change of scenery.
Ellis hasn’t been himself during his two seasons with the Pacers. He averaged 13.8 points and 4.7 assists in 2015-16 and is posting 10.4 points and 3.9 assists in 2016-17—a far cry from the 18.9 points per game he posted in a recent 2014-15 campaign on a postseason team.
During a recent Q & A, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders revealed that the Pacers are open to trading Ellis in 2016-17.
I know they’d be open to moving Monta Ellis, but I am not sure what he returns. Maybe Orlando? I think they need a flat out scorer and there is some history with Vogel, but at this point, nothing is there.
That makes quite a bit of sense for both Ellis and the Pacers.
Ellis has two guaranteed seasons and a player option worth $11.7 million remaining on his contract. That alone makes it difficult to believe too many teams would jump the gun on a trade for Ellis with so much time remaining on his deal.
Following a summer where a vast number of teams handed out bigger contracts to worse players, however, Ellis could be a valued commodity.
Ellis is who he is: a slashing scorer who’s creative around the rim, proficient from midrange, and versatile enough to facilitate. He’s also a volume shooter who’s inconsistent on defense and ineffective without the ball in his hands.
The question is: which team would be the perfect fit for Ellis to rediscover something close to his recent star-caliber form?
5. Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic have backed themselves into a corner with their recent roster moves. The defense should be elite under Frank Vogel, but the offense has a very clear weakness that’s hurting Orlando early: the absence of a penetrating guard.
Elfrid Payton is developing well at point guard and Evan Fournier is a lights-out shooter, but neither can consistently put the orange on the hardwood and attack.
Fournier leads the Magic with 5.1 points via drives per game on 45.1 percent shooting—respectable numbers. He’s using his size to drive, however, which results in his often pulling up for pull-up shots instead of taking it all the way to the rim.
Fournier has done a very respectable job and only seems to be getting better, but adding Ellis as the sixth man would provide an instant fix and ideal complement.
Ellis, who played for Frank Vogel in Indiana, can step in as the go-to slashing threat off the bench. He doesn’t need a screen to get by his man, but is crafty in the pick and roll, and could potentially balance the Magic’s offense.
Orlando needs a slasher who can shoot the 3-ball, though, which is why it’s fair to believe that it’s unlikely Ellis will end up with the Magic.
4. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans have a deep backcourt that consists of Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Tim Frazier, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, and E’Twaun Moore. Those six players could potentially combine for a consistently strong impact.
If the Pelicans decide that a move needs to be made and Evans isn’t the answer as a slasher, however, Monta Ellis could be the fix.
Anthony Davis has been playing at an all-time level, but the Pelicans are struggling to win games with any regularity. One of the primary issues for New Orleans is the absence of a perimeter player who can consistently create their own offense.
If there’s anything that Ellis knows how to do, it’s take the floor and put points on the board as a scorer and facilitator.
Holiday and Ellis could be a solid offensive starting backcourt to complement Davis, or Ellis could come off the bench as the sixth man. Either way, his ability to get to the rim and score from midrange would alleviate pressure from Davis on offense.
It may not be the most likely of outcomes due to the depth in New Orleans’ backcourt, but it’s a move that could help the Pelicans expedite the rebuild if executed responsibly.
3. Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies are off to a hot start to the 2016-17 NBA regular season, but it’s fair to question how sustainable it is. Mike Conley will miss at least one month with fractures in his back and could be limited upon return for weeks after that.
Even with a healthy Conley, it’s hard to ignore how desperately the Grizzlies need a sixth man who can come in and relentlessly attack the rack.
A healthy Grizzlies squad has a reasonable number of shooters on the roster, but no one other than Conley can consistently drive. Even Conley is somewhat limited in that regard, however, and his back injury may complicate matters even further.
Having Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the post certainly helps, but having a perimeter player who can finish at the rim would be a game-changer.
Monta Ellis is an unpredictable commodity for a contender, but he could be the missing piece in Memphis. He’d be the perfect sixth man for a team that needs a player who can take the floor and galvanize the offense.
Memphis may not be willing to invest two or three seasons in Ellis, but it has a closing window with aging stars, amounting injuries, and a No. 26 ranking in offensive efficiency.
2. Dallas Mavericks
Monta Ellis spent the 2013-14 and 2014-15 NBA seasons with the Dallas Mavericks. During that time, he accumulated averages of 19.0 points, 4.9 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.9 steals on 44.8 percent shooting from the field.
More importantly, Ellis was one of the go-to players on a pair of Mavericks teams that won 49 and 50 games.
Ellis may not work in every system or under every head coach, but he proved he could thrive in Dallas. He may not have been re-signed in 2015, but that doesn’t mean one of the Mavericks’ key figures didn’t want him back.
Per Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, head coach Rick Carlisle would have loved to have Ellis back, but understood that the pursuit of DeAndre Jordan took precedence.
“A lot of it hinged around we thought [DeAndre] Jordan would be here,” Carlisle said. “That was one of the reasons the thinking changed a little. But Monta was terrific for two years here.
“I would have loved to have him back either way. But there’s a limit to the amount of money you can spend and the guys you can bring in. He and Wes are both terrific players, and we’re happy with Wes.”
With a dramatically higher salary cap and a need for improved guard play, why not reunite Ellis and Carlisle?
Ellis is being paid $10,763,500 in 2016-17 and will make $11,227,000 during the 2017-18 season. He also has a player option for $11,690,5000 in 2018-19, which could be what turns Mark Cuban off from this deal.
The reality is: under a salary cap that’s projected to rise above $100 million, that contract really isn’t as much of a burden as it would’ve been before.
Ellis would be an upgrade over Deron Williams, Devin Harris, and J.J. Barea, and would provide with the offense that Wesley Matthews has thus far been unable to.
1. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks have a specific weakness that’s remained present since Joe Johnson departed. It’s not a matter of the interior players struggling or the point guard being ineffective, but instead the flaw of the wings.
No Hawks perimeter player can consistently create their own offense, which is why the team struggles so consistently during clutch situations.
The Hawks have a postseason-caliber starting lineup with Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, and Dwight Howard. During clutch situations, however, it’s turned to backup shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to create in isolation.
Hardaway Jr. could potentially develop into a high-quality ISO scorer, but the Hawks have immediate postseason aspirations.
Adding Ellis’ contract to the mix is where this gets tricky, but his talent would be of great aid to the Hawks. They need a player who can attack off the dribble and finish at the rim, with no player other than the somewhat gun shy Dennis Schröder averaging more than 2.7 points via drives per game.
Say what you will about the rest of Ellis’ game, but he’s one of the best slashers in the NBA, which makes him the perfect sixth man for Atlanta.
Ellis may not be as hot of a commodity as he once was, but if a potential contender needs a sixth man, he could be the perfect fit.