According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the Chicago Bulls are interested in signing unrestricted free agent Monta Ellis. With the top shooters flying off of the market and the Bulls in the market for a scorer, a sense of urgency has developed.
That's exactly why signing Ellis must be Chicago's top priority.
Ellis has come under fire as an inconsistent volume shooter. His time with the Milwaukee Bucks was beyond lackluster. Even so, Ellis is one of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA, pairing elite quickness with a smooth jump shot.
It certainly doesn't hurt that he's a killer in the clutch.
Case in point.
With Berger reporting that the Bulls are one of many teams interested in acquiring Ellis, it's clear that Chicago is in the market for a scorer. With Ellis having established a reputation as a late-game scoring presence and Chicago needing depth, the former Bucks star could be the perfect fit.
It would just take a little re-construction.
The Bulls would likely need to complete a sign-and-trade to get this done, which isn't out of the question with Milwaukee lacking present-day talent. Another option would be to move a bigger contract, with Kirk Hinrich and the rumor mill maestro Luol Deng both serving as options.
While dealing Deng may be of an extreme nature, Hinrich—an elite point guard defender who has struggled to overcome injuries—has an expiring contract worth $4.0 million per season. Paired with the proper pieces, dealing Hinrich could open up the books for Chicago to get this deal done.
It's important to note that Ellis is willing to take a pay cut if it means he's competing for a title.
Dispelling Rumors of Inconsistency
During his two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Monta Ellis earned the reputation of an inconsistent player. There's good reason for that, as Ellis shot 43.2 percent from the field in 2011-12 and 41.6 percent in 2012-13.
From 2006 to 2011, a span of five full seasons, Ellis averaged 21.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting from the floor. In that time, Ellis shot worse than 45.0 percent from the field just once.
That year was 2010, as he averaged 25.5 points on 44.9 percent shooting, nitpickers.
While some may believe he's an out-of-control player, Ellis has actually been an efficient scorer in the right system. For a Bulls team led by a supreme game manager in Derrick Rose and an elite head coach in Tom Thibodeau, those abilities would be maximized.
He would be used in the same manner as Nate Robinson in 2012-13. Ellis' elite scoring prowess would be maximized and wild tendencies proven to be a product of a poor system.
Absence of Available Shooters
Entering the 2013 period of NBA free agency, perhaps no classification of player was as prominent as the sharpshooter. From J.J. Redick to Kyle Korver to Kevin Martin, there was no shortage of three-point marksmen.
Don't blink, as the top-tier shooters are finding new homes with no pause.
The Bulls found themselves a steal with small forward Mike Dunleavy, a career 37.2 percent shooter from three-point range. With that being said, Dunleavy is a complementary piece that thrives more off of the catch than in creating his own shot.
Ellis, Dunleavy's teammate in Milwaukee (and Golden State several years ago), is the star scorer Chicago has needed to complement Rose.
Ellis thrives in attacking off of the dribble, beating defenders with his quick first step and finishing around the basket. While his three-point shooting has never been elite, he's beyond capable as a jump shooter.
With the top three-point marksmen rapidly coming off the market, Chicago must snatch up the best scorer remaining.
Derrick Rose is a league MVP, Luol Deng is a two-way force of nature, Carlos Boozer is finally coming into his own in Chicago and Joakim Noah is an elite two-way player. Jimmy Butler is displaying significant upside and Dunleavy can shoot the lights out.
As we learned last year, however, there's something that Chicago needs—scorers.
Rose's return will undeniably help in that regard, as he's expected to score more than 20 points per game. With that being said, the Bulls are no anomaly, and NBA teams need multiple players that can create their own shot to stand a chance at a title.
Who better than Ellis to serve that purpose?
Not only is Ellis capable of finishing in traffic, but he can shoot the basketball and, most importantly, facilitate. Ellis can serve as an off guard, or he could run point while D-Rose is on the bench.
Yet another void Chicago needs to fill.
Ellis may not have the reputation of a consistent player, and turnovers are an issue for him. With a closer evaluation of the numbers, however, it's clear that when he's in a system—something Milwaukee didn't have and Chicago does—Ellis can be an efficient scorer.
Before they run out of options, the Bulls must pounce on this golden opportunity to make him just that in Chicago.