The game of musical chairs that is the Dallas Mavericks’ backcourt experienced major changes Friday involving three players.
First, rookie Shane Larkin will be out for three months after breaking his right ankle during summer league practice at American Airlines Center. Not long after that the Mavericks agreed to terms with shooting guard Monta Ellis on a three-year contract worth between $25 million and $30 million.
Then, to top off Friday’s guard-heavy transactions, the Mavericks severed ties with guard Devin Harris after discovering he has a dislocated toe on his left foot that will require surgery. Although the Mavericks are still interested in Harris, they no longer are tied to the three-year, $9 million contract they verbally agreed on last week.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks are spreading much-needed joy about securing Ellis after a bumpy summer that saw them lose out on centers Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.
Ellis, an eight-year veteran, is best remembered for the 6 1/2 seasons he spent with the Golden State Warriors. He has been with the Milwaukee Bucks the past year and a half and averaged 19.2 points and six assists while playing all 82 games this past season. His career high of 25.5 points a game came with Golden State in 2009-10.
Elston Turner, who played for the Mavs from 1981-84 and has worked as an NBA assistant coach, said Dallas might have hit a home run with Ellis. But only if the Mavericks use him correctly.
“Monta is a big-time player,” Turner said while watching summer-league action at Cox Pavilion. “I like the way he keeps pressure on the defense because he seems to always be in attack mode and breaking people down.
“If they turn it up a little bit in Dallas and start running, I think he’s an open-court type of player that can get to the rim.”
Turner said to pay little attention to Ellis’ supposed weakness — shooting accuracy. Ellis shot only 41.6 percent from the field last season, including 28.6 percent from 3-point territory.
“The NBA scouting report is you want to test his shot, you want to test his jumper more so than anything,” Turner said. “But when he played us he seemed to always make his jumper.
“So once he starts making that consistent jumper, you’ve got the total package. I really like him.”
The Mavericks still desperately need a bona fide center and are in talks to obtain Samuel Dalembert or Greg Oden.
Ellis is expected to line up as a starter in the backcourt alongside new point guard Jose Calderon.
“That’s a good solid backcourt,” Turner said. “It should be good entertainment for the crowd, depending on the style.
“You want to kind of take advantage of what their strength is. And I know Monta Ellis likes to keep the pressure on the defense and get in the open court and play a little bit.”
The Mavs were hoping Larkin, taken No. 18 overall in the draft, could use the summer league in his development.
“It hurts the team,” Mavericks summer league coach Monte Mathis said. “He would have been starting, and we wanted to see him play.
“We’ve just got to pick up the pieces and move on. We really wanted to watch him play so he could learn our system and everything, but it’s just a little hiccup right now because he’s got to take care of his injury.”
Without Larkin, the Mavericks will play their first game in the Las Vegas Summer League today at 5 p.m. against the Sacramento Kings.
Turner watches Turner
As soon as Elston Turner Jr. entered Friday afternoon’s summer league game against the New York Knicks at Cox Pavilion, Elston Turner Sr. picked up a video camera and quickly started filming.
“I’m a proud dad,” said Turner Sr., who played for the Mavs from 1981-84. “It’s good to see him out here.
“He put in a lot of work since he was actually able to walk. He was interested in basketball just because I was around it, so he’s been around it his whole life.”
Turner Jr. is an undrafted free-agent forward who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans after a stellar career at Texas A&M. That career with the Aggies included Turner’s scoring 40 points in a road game against Kentucky, 38 against Tennessee, and 37 against Mississippi, his dad’s alma mater.
“What he can do is shoot the basketball real well,” Turner Sr. said. “It’s tough breaking into the NBA because it’s so many kids.
“But if he’s unable to continue his career in this league, he’ll play somewhere.”