Utah Jazz: Should Jazz Chase Monta Ellis in Free Agency?

Joshua J VannucciniSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 27, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Monta Ellis #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on February 19, 2013 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Nets defeated the Bucks 113-111 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As one of the few teams with spending money this offseason, the Utah Jazz should opt to make a big splash in the free-agency pool. While big names like Chris Paul and Josh Smith may chase bigger markets, there remains a plethora of talent available.

One of these players is Monta Ellis.

Renowned for his scoring, Ellis is having one of the worst seasons of his career. While he's averaging 18.2 points, which is more than last season's 17.6, Ellis is shooting a career-low 40 percent from the field. His dismal 22.7 percent from three-point range follows suit, and it may have something to do with playing alongside Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee. 

The Bucks have a talented backcourt, but both Jennings and Ellis are ball-dominant players. The general consensus is that pairing two players of that nature together will not work. While combinations like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have worked to some extent, it has more to do with their experience than anything else.

Ellis' nine seasons in the league are deceiving, as he's still just 27 years old. He's certainly at an age where he puts forth his veteran leadership, but Jennings has priority on that team, thus Ellis must play second fiddle to a junior guard.

With such a disappointing season under his belt, it is possible that the interest and market for Ellis will be low. There aren't too many teams that need another dominant guard—however, the Jazz are one that do.

Utah will have just seven players under guaranteed contracts for next season, with the possible departure of Marvin Williams on an Early Termination option. Of those ballers, Alec Burks is the only guard. It may be time for him to be cast into the spotlight, and ultimately be forced into a starting role. 

Burks was taken 12th overall in the 2011 NBA draft, but he has yet to start a single game in his career. He has averaged 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds since the All-Star break, shooting 50 percent from both the field and beyond the arc.

Adding a player of Ellis' caliber would not create the same effect seen with Jennings in Milwaukee. Burks' offense comes mostly as a spot-up shooter, where he's run 26.3 percent of the time by the Jazz coaching staff. He's also cast into the role as the pick-and-roll ball-handler 21 percent of the time.

Ellis is seemingly the reverse of Burks in terms of offensive placement. He's a spot-up guy on an 11.3 percent usage, with 32.4 percent coming as the pick-and-roll ball-handler. 

The Jazz have the cap space to pursue Ellis, as he would command a contract that equals about $10 million per year. He's receiving $11 million this season with the Bucks, so seeing him take a slight pay cut due to his poor play wouldn't be far-fetched.

Utah already has their frontcourt set if either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap leave for good, with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors ready to step in. Gordon Hayward has the 3 spot locked down, with Burks at the 2. Ellis is a combo-guard, and he works better as a scorer/distributor at the point guard spot.

It would be a great addition for the young team, regardless of Ellis' personal shortcomings. The Jazz's starting rotation would be excellent with him, however it remains a matter of time to see how team management handles the situation.