The NBA's 2013 free agent market is basically like a couple deciding on getting a pet way too early in the relationship. You think it'll be a good idea at the time, but you know it'll be expensive, and if things go south you'll be saddled with a problem for years down the line.
Almost every single player can be categorized as a high-risk, high-reward decision. Think Dwight Howard (inability to hold up to the spotlight), Andrew Bynum (history of health issues) or Andrei Kirilenko (has played a full 82-game season only once in his career).
Unrestricted free agent Monta Ellis epitomizes this free-agent class. While the 27-year-old shooting guard is one of the best scorers in the NBA, there are questions about pretty much every part of his game. He has a history of health issues, playing less than 65 games in four of the last six years, his three-point and jump shooting are questionable at best and his inconsistencies on the floor prevent him from fitting in well in most team-oriented systems.
In fact, Ellis holds the dubious distinction of having the highest career points per game average (19.4) of any player who has never been selected to an All-Star game.
Now, after opting out of his deal in Milwaukee which would have paid him over $12 million this season, he will likely be settling for less money on the open market, probably somewhere around $9-10 million a year. One could argue that he is attempting to join a squad that will get him a championship, which is a sound theory until you take a look at the four teams he is most interested in joining.
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the four teams of interest are the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte
Sources: Monta Ellis hoping to choose btwn ATL, Sacramento, Charlotte and Dallas within next 36-48 hours
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 9, 2013
Or, as John Tittler put it,
Monta Ellis has pared down his choices to 4. Non-playoff team 1, non-playoff team 2, non-playoff team 3, and non-playoff team 4.
— John Tittler (@fulham1979) July 10, 2013
San Fransisco Chronicle sports writer Bruce Jenkins also managed to sum up Ellis' options quite nicely.
Forever on the edge of nowhere: Monta Ellis reportedly down to four options: Atlanta, Sacramento, Dallas, Charlotte.
— Bruce Jenkins (@Bruce_Jenkins1) July 9, 2013
Let's briefly look at two other potential suitors that we missed out on who had expressed earlier interest in Ellis, but for various reasons are not being considered.
The first was the Chicago Bulls, who, according to Chicago Bulls Rumors, would have had to reorganize their roster to make an Ellis signing work.
Chicago Bulls to acquire Monta Ellis would likely had to Amnesty Carlos Boozer. Deal had slimmest chance of happening. (Quote: Doug Thonus)
— Chicago Bulls Rumors (@chicagobullsbot) July 9, 2013
The second was the New York Knicks, and it's a shame, really, because the reaction of Knicks fans would have been priceless.
In fact, it already resulted in some gems, like ESPN The Magazine's Twitter feed commenting on that potential starting lineup.
A starting lineup of Ray Felton, Monta Ellis, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler. What could possibly go wrong?
— ESPN The Magazine (@ESPNMag) July 1, 2013
Fox Sports radio host Ben Maller made sure to note a potential rule change if Ellis did indeed sign with New York.
Only way Monta Ellis and Carmelo Anthony play on Knicks together if NBA allows New York to play with two basketballs. #Fact
— Ben Maller (@benmaller) July 1, 2013
Now as for the teams Ellis is reportedly most interested in.
USA Today NBA writer Sean Highkin is under the impression that Ellis would not be a great fit for the Atlanta Hawks, instead advocating for Andrei Kirilenko. (Any time you can sneak in an AK47 reference, you have to, right?)
AK47 would be a better use of the Hawks' cap space than Monta Ellis.
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 10, 2013
While it seems like Monta Ellis heading to Sacramento might be a good idea, Sacramento Bee writer Jason Jones points out the obvious flaw.
I like Monta Ellis. He'd be the best guard the Kings have. But they'd have to get rid of the various versions of Monta they already have.
— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) May 31, 2013
And while heading to Charlotte seems, well, laughable, take a look at NBA Legion's observation...
Bobcats potential lineup: Kemba, Monta Ellis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts & Al Jefferson. Ben Gordon and Cody Zeller off bench. Not bad..
— NBA Legion (@MySportsLegion) July 10, 2013
In fact, I kinda have to agree with hoopdiary.com's Paul Henderson, who has this to say.
Monta Ellis to Charlotte just feels... well, perfect.
— Paul - hoopdiary.com (@HD_Paul) July 10, 2013
And lastly, for all you Golden State Warriors fans out there, Bleacher Report's Content Editor Benjamin Cruz is there for you with a silver lining.
Nedovic wearing No. 8 at summer league practice. All of you with Monta Ellis jerseys, get your duct tape ready!
— Benjamin Cruz (@cruzkontrol) July 10, 2013