According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports, the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings are all pursuing unrestricted free agent Monta Ellis. Zillgitt's report states that the listed teams are attempting to clear the cap space necessary to execute a deal.
If Ellis is looking to maximize his world-class ability, he'll do all he can to sign with the Mavericks.
Ellis exercised an early termination option to leave the Milwaukee Bucks after experiencing his most inefficient season since his rookie year. In the process, the 27-year-old turned down $11 million to explore the free-agent waters.
Per Chris Broussard of ESPN, Ellis has since fired his agent Jeff Fried due to the lack of lucrative offers he's received.
Monta Ellis has parted ways with longtime agent Jeff Fried. Industry sources expect Ellis to sign with Dan Fegan.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 10, 2013
Just don't consider that a deal-breaker.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that Ellis would take a pay cut if it means he could play for a contender. With the Mavericks two seasons removed from winning a title, they certainly have the pedigree.
It all starts with the man who presides over the team as head coach.
Rick Carlisle's Pedigree
From 2006 to 2011, Monta Ellis averaged 21.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting from the field. In his only full season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Ellis put up 19.2 points on 41.6 percent shooting from the floor.
The main difference? Ellis went from playing in a system to a team that preached defense without any sense of direction offensively.
While that may make Mike Malone, Ellis' former assistant coach, and the Sacramento Kings an intriguing fit, they're far from competing for a title.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, have potential future Hall of Fame head coach Rick Carlisle. Not only is Carlisle a master of creating ball movement, but he's improved as a transition leader and knows how to turn elite abilities into consistent production.
Just ask O.J. Mayo—12.6 points on a slash line of .408/.364/.773 in 2011-12 and 15.3 points on a slash line of .449/.407/.820 last season—what Carlisle can do for scorers.
Again, Malone may be the better fit based off of familiarity, thus leading some to believe Sacramento will be his ultimate destination. Upon a basic review, however, Carlisle has an NBA championship to his name and has made the playoffs in nine of his 11 seasons as a head coach.
As we said, a potential Hall of Fame coach—something only the Atlanta Hawks can also offer.
The Dirk Factor
Atlanta may have Mike Budenholzer, but they currently have borderline All-Stars and the absence of a superstar.
Dirk Nowitzki, meanwhile, is an 11-time All-Star, the 2011 NBA Finals MVP, the 2007 regular-season MVP and a 12-time All-NBA selection. In 2012-13, however, Nowitzki battled injuries and was unable to reach his peak form.
Who should Monta Ellis sign with?
A comical truth considering he still averaged 17.3 points in 31.3 minutes on a slash line of .471/.414/.860.
What Ellis has long lacked in his career is the support of an established superstar that can take over as a scorer and play selflessly out of the post. That's exactly what Nowitzki can be, pacing Dallas through games, dominating the fourth quarter and setting his teammates up with passes from down low.
All in all, he's the perfect complement to Ellis from a basketball perspective.
The clinching factor with Nowitzki and Ellis isn't what they can do together, as Hawks big man Al Horford offers a similar situation. What Dirk can do for the mercurial scorer, however, is help Ellis avoid his occasionally reckless play.
If anyone can grab the bull by the horns and direct Ellis in the direction of a superstar performer, it's Nowitzki and his well-respected on- and off-the-court personality.
Supporting Cast and 2014
In 2011-12, the Golden State Warriors began to trust score-first point guard Stephen Curry to handle the ball and thus cut into Monta Ellis' scoring touches. In 2012-13, the Milwaukee Bucks did the same with Brandon Jennings.
In each of those seasons, Ellis struggled to find his niche and thus went from one of the most efficiently dominant scorers in the NBA to a player marred by an absence of direction.
In Dallas, however, the Mavericks have one of the best facilitators in the NBA with Jose Calderon. Not only can Calderon create for other players, but he's one of the most proficient three-point shooters in the NBA, shooting a league-best 46.1 percent from distance.
Thus, Ellis can work off of screens with an accurate distributor to find him at the most ideal moments and continue dominating the ball as he slashes and scores or passes it out to an elite shooter.
Furthermore, Ellis would be playing alongside one of the NBA's premier defenders in Shawn Marion. Not only can he help to mask some of Ellis' defensive flaws, but Marion can help the 27-year-old transition from a ball hawk into fundamentally sound defender.
Together, Ellis and Marion could create one of the better transition attacks in basketball.
If that's not intriguing enough for Ellis, the Mavericks are preparing to clear mountains of cap space for the 2014 period of free agency. With Nowitzki planning to take a major pay cut to help Dallas bring in yet another star, Dallas could capitalize on one of the deepest classes of free agents we've ever seen.
Already having Calderon, Carlisle, Ellis and Dirk in place is significantly more attractive than anything the Bobcats, Hawks or Kings can offer—so why would Ellis run away from a chance to compete for a title in his prime?