Monta Camp Says Mavs Interested

Ranking free agents is an empty exercise without proper context. So is asking ‘Do The Mavs Like Monta Ellis?' The answer is ‘yes,' depending on bridging of the gap between what Monta thinks he's worth vs. what Dallas thinks he's worth. For now, Monta's people are clearly sending the message that the Mavs are interested.

Monta Ellis has opted out of the final year of his contract and on July 1 will become a free agent next month. In doing so, he's forfeited a guaranteed $11 million – a gamble on himself that seems ill-advised unless one of his main objectives was simply to escape Milwaukee.

Ellis, 27, is an explosive scoring point guard who averaged 19 points, four rebounds, and six assists last season with Milwaukee. He's hardly the "pure point guard'' Dirk would love to play with. But Ellis is bigger than he looks at 6-3, and for his reputation as a non-passer and a poor defender, he did rank 11th in the league in scoring and fourth in steals.

At a different time, in a different place, under the terms of a different CBA, Monta Ellis is an $11-mil player.

But not with the Dallas Mavericks. Not now.

As free agency opens, USA Today is reporting the following: The Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks — both teams with significant salary cap space — are two teams who have shown strong interest in Ellis and two teams Ellis has an interest in, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of Ellis' situation.

Ellis is also at the point in his career where he wants to play deep into the playoffs. Other teams have shown interest — such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks — but those teams are handcuffed by salary cap restrictions and would need to make other moves in order to accommodate Ellis, who is willing to find common ground between salary and playing for a contender.

That is clearly information gleaned by talking to the Ellis camp. But ...

"Do The Mavs Like Monta Ellis?'' Absolutely. His lack of defensive prowess would drive coach Rick Carlisle nuts. His status as a high-volume shooter would rub purists the wrong way. His BBIQ pales to that of Jason Kidd, the very best type of PG to team with Dirk.

And at $11 million – almost certainly the basement of what Ellis will be hoping for on July 1 – he'd be a terrible addition.

But Dallas can like Ellis at the right price. And in the right situation.

Will teams line up to pay Ellis $11 million a year? I assume not. How close will his sales price come down to half of Dallas' easily available $14 mil? In other words, is Monta Ellis a fit at under $7 million?

Now we're talking.

Dallas benefitted last year when the market shocked O.J. Mayo by drying up, leaving him having to sign for $4 million. Can the market dry up similarly for Ellis?

This is why, frankly, a "list of PG's the Mavs like'' is a futile exercise. Who do they like? Well, they like Chris Paul. They like Darren Collison. And they like Mike James, just to name three.

But they like Chris Paul for $18 mil a year. And they like Darren Collison but not enough to QO him.

And they also like Mike James for the vet's minimum.

We should throw Jarrett Jack in here, too.

So yes, they like Monta Ellis … but "like'' does not occur in a vacuum and cannot be explained within the simplicity of "list of PG's the Mavs like.''

I can tell you that waiting to see if Ellis becomes affordable is a page in Dallas' playbook here – but that's not a very proactive or aggressive approach. So it's not really a "July 1 approach.''

Unless … reports of Dwight Howard and Ellis sharing a friendship so close that they'd like to play together are accurate. Truthfully, Dwight is also friendly with Chris Paul and if I'm Dwight, I'd cherish that relationship more than my bond with Ellis, if you know what I mean.

(We might want to re-explore the Dwight/Josh Smith friendship, too.)

So, if Dallas' "like'' of Monta Ellis is tested to the point where they have to budge from their Plan Powder guidelines? No, they don't "like'' him that much.

But if free-agency realities force Ellis to learn he's almost half the player he thinks he is? And if a shorter-term offer is as good as it gets? And especially if he's truly a candidate to come to Dallas as Dwight Howard's caddie?

Suddenly, "Do The Mavs Like Monta Ellis?'' becomes a much easier question to answer.

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