Rumors persist that the Sacramento Kings are still hot after Milwaukee Bucks free agent Monta Ellis. The former Warriors guard has ties to coach Michael Malone, who worked with Ellis for half a season in Golden State, and general manager Pete D’Alessandro, who was part of Golden State’s front office when Ellis was drafted in 2005.
The 27-year-old scorer turned down a reported three year, $36-million extension from Milwaukee and opted out of an $11 million payday to test the free agent waters. ESPN’s Chris Broussard broke the news this morning that Ellis has walked away from long-time agent Jeff Fried and is expected to sign with Dan Fegan, who also represents Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
Ellis wants a long-term deal that will most likely top what the Kings refused to pay Tyreke Evans last week. Evans will be introduced tomorrow as one of the newest members of the New Orleans Pelicans following a sign-and-trade deal for point guard Greivis Vasquez.
Last year with the Bucks, Ellis averaged 19.1 points, 6.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, but shot only 41.6 percent from the field and 28.7 percent from behind the arc. He is a bulk scorer that averaged 17.5 shots per game last season and 16.4 per game for his career.
As a defender, Ellis has improved, but is nowhere near the level of Evans on that end of the floor. He averaged 2.1 steals per game last season and 1.7 for his career. But his defense mirrors his offense; he is more gambler than grinder.
While Ellis always gets his shots on the offensive end, his six assists per game and assist percentage of 27.1 would have both ranked first on the Kings roster last season. In a summer where the Kings promised to improve their passing, Ellis would actually help.
In Milwaukee, Ellis played alongside a player similar to himself in Brandon Jennings. The duo hoisted up a combined 33 shots per game as a starting backcourt and neither was particularly efficient. In Sacramento, Ellis would be paired with a pass-first point guard in Vasquez, which could be an interesting dynamic.
Adding a scorer and playmaker like Ellis would also make Marcus Thornton expendable. Ellis is clearly a more complete player than Thornton, but is he a better fit? With the additions of Carl Landry and Luc Mbah a Moute, the Kings will need all the perimeter shooting they can find. Can the Kings afford to trade away Thornton’s 3-point shooting for Ellis’?
There are plenty more questions that could be asked if the Kings are to sign Ellis. Is he a long-term solution in Sacramento? Would he be willing to accept a secondary role if and when Ben McLemore is ready to take over at the two? Is he the type of locker room presence the Kings need?
It sounds like there are more questions than answers when it comes to Ellis, so let’s hear your thoughts.