Organizations looking for improved guard play have a few quality options remaining, including veteran Monta Ellis.
Let's take a look at the latest regarding Ellis and couple other names as teams continue searching for ways to improve before the 2013 season.
The market for Monta Ellis seems to be heating up. As evidenced by his 19.2 points and six assists per game for the Milwaukee Bucks, he is someone who can create instant offense, though he is a terrible defender.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Hawks have plenty of interest in him, as he could help replace some of the scoring left by Josh Smith.
Another team interested in Ellis is, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Denver Nuggets:
Source says Bucks guard Monta Ellis is getting "major interest" from Nuggets, but more teams have also expressed interest in recent hours.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 6, 2013
Ellis is a natural upgrade over Evan Fournier at shooting guard, who averaged just 5.3 points per game last season. Ellis would also help replace Andre Iguodola's production and take some of the scoring pressure off of Ty Lawson.
Finally, the Sacramento Kings are showing interest, and according to a separate report from Stein, they are willing to dump salary in order to fit Ellis in:
Sources say that the Kings, meanwhile, have been shopping the likes of Jimmer Fredette and Chuck Hayes to the Cavaliers to create the requisite salary-cap room to try to sign Ellis comfortably. Hard to see Cleveland wanting Hayes, whose contract runs through 2014-15 and thus potentially cuts into Cleveland's reserves earmarked for a free-agent run at LeBron James next summer. Fredette's $2.4 million salary is a virtual expiring deal.
Ellis is not a natural fit for the Kings, as they just drafted a ball-dominant guard in Ben McLemore who would seem to fill the hole left by Tyreke Evans. In addition, Ellis is an awful defender, and the Bucks were two-and-a-half points worse per 100 possessions when he was on the floor, as per 82games.com.
The Kings gave up 105.1 points per game last year, which was 30th in the league. Ellis, if anything, would only make the defense worse.
The Nuggets seem to be the most logical fit. However, Stein tweets that the Nuggets are zeroing in on Randy Foye, which would leave the Hawks and Kings as the only remaining destinations:
Volume rising on rumbles Randy Foye will wind up w/Nuggets. Which would take DEN out of Monta Ellis race & clear way for Hawks to sign Monta— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 8, 2013
As one of the hottest names available, Ellis' situation will be one to monitor.
Brandon Jennings for Jeff Teague?
According ESPN's Marc Stein, the Bucks and Hawks are exploring a swap of their respective point guards, with the Hawks potentially getting Brandon Jennings and the Bucks getting Jeff Teague.
If this deal were to happen, it would mean the Hawks would stop their pursuit of Ellis.
The two restricted free agents are pretty similar players. Jennings averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists last season, while Teague averaged 14.6 points and 7.2 assists.
Teague, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, is unhappy with how the free-agent process has played out:
ATL G Jeff Teague's camp has"growing frustation" in how his free agency has been handled with zero meaningful contract discussions, Y!source— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 6, 2013
In addition, the Bucks, spearheaded by new coach Larry Drew, initiated the pursuit of Teague, as per Stein:
As if their backcourt situation not sufficiently up in air ... hearing Bucks, at behest of new coach Larry Drew, pursuing RFA Jeff Teague— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2013
A swap would make sense. The Bucks want Teague, and Teague is unhappy with Atlanta. In addition, Chad Ford of ESPN (Insider account required), reported that Jennings was unhappy in Milwaukee.
Both teams wouldn't suffer in terms of guard play, and a change of scenery could benefit both players.