Free-agent guard Monta Ellis appears to be the next piece in the Indiana Pacers’ offseason makeover.
Ellis is reportedly meeting with the Pacers today and said to be in serious discussions on a three-year, $32-million contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
Pacers President Larry Bird wants the team to play a more up-tempo style with an emphasis on perimeter versatility. Ellis fits that design as a 19.3-point scorer in 10 NBA seasons. Last season with the Dallas Mavericks, he averaged 18.9 points and 4.1 assists.
ESPN.com NBA analyst Chris Broussard tweeted early this morning, “Larry Bird loves Ellis-PGeorge perimeter combo,” in reference to Pacers two-time All-Star Paul George.
Bird has continually mentioned the team’s intent to play George at power forward in an effort to keep in quick step with the NBA’s trend toward “small ball.” Point guard George Hill, like Ellis, can also play shooting guard, and Bird as well as head coach Frank Vogel would like Hill to be more of a scorer.
Ellis, 29, declined to exercise his $8.3-million player option with the Mavericks, thus becoming a free agent. The Pacers had cap space after forward David West declined his $12.6-million option.
Ellis, a 6-3 veteran who can play shooting guard or the point, played for the Golden State Warriors from 2005 to 2012, the Milwaukee Bucks in 2012-13 and the Mavericks from 2013 to 2015.
The Pacers are also reportedly interested in another Mavericks player, 6-9 center Brandan Wright, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Wright would make sense because the Pacers have already informed 7-2 center Roy Hibbert that his role will likely be reduced this season.
Hibbert opted in for $15.5 million on the final year of his contract. But he’s more of a rim protector and shot blocker, not the kind of player who gets up and down the floor. And Bird said after last season that he had hoped to see more from his center while George missed much of the season due to a broken leg.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.