Mavs Close In On Deal For Monta Ellis

Termed a ‘longshot' to come to Dallas two days ago, Monta Ellis is in the process of agreeing to a three-year Mavs deal, sources tell Still being defined is the base salary and also the structure of the acquisition, which can no longer be in the form of a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee due to Mayo's official signing there.

An ESPN report suggests Monta Ellis's total salary could be $30 million. But the Dallas Mavericks presently have closer to $8 million available as his starting salary depending on their juggling. More moves can be made to accommodate some more room for Ellis' money -- while hopefully still finding a way to squeeze free-agent center Samuel Dalembert on the roster as well. Among those as of Friday: A sign-and-trade with the Bucks (possibly involving Ellis-and-Dalembert in exchange for O.J. Mayo and pieces along the lines of Josh Akognon.

That's one of the "juggles.'' Contrary to reports, the Mavs could've sign-and-trade away Mayo in such a deal. As long as Mayo hadn't yet signed in Milwaukee, here was the formula:

Mayo represents $8.2 million going out, Akognon $800,000. That's $9 million out. Times 150 percent means that $13.5 million can come back to Dallas. If Monta's deal starts at, say, $9 million, that leaves $4.5 million to give to Dalembert.

This option closed up, however, on Saturday morning, with the Bucks announcing their outright signing of Mayo. Monta is still coming to Dallas, but not in the form of a sign-and-trade. It's possible now that his base salary for the three years won't be as high as $30 million, an asset-management advantage for Dallas.

Dallas entered free agency hoping the market would dry up on a player of Ellis' caliber, allowing the Mavs to get him at a bargain price (compared to the $12-million-a-year deal he turned down to stay with the Bucks). The goal was to acquire Ellis in the same manner with which they acquired Mayo a year ago – at half his original asking price.

Ellis, 27, is considered a "volume shooter'' and an offensive weapon who at 6-3, could slide in at 2-guard and become Dallas' No. 2 scorer. He averaged 19.2 points and 6 assists a game last year and while he records steals at a high number, is not considered an above-average defender. Ellis will join a Dallas backcourt featuring veteran newcomers Jose Calderon and Wayne Ellington (with Devin Harris no longer part of the plan as he failed his physical due to a toe injury) along with rookies Shake Larkin (out for three months now with a broken ankle), Ricky Ledo and Gal Mekel.

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