Coach Rick Carlisle remembers that when Monta Ellis joined the Dallas Mavericks last summer several naysayers didn’t have many kind words for the shooting guard.
They figured Ellis was too edgy and too selfish for the Mavs, and that he wouldn’t fit in with Carlisle’s share-the-ball system.
By now, Carlisle figures they were all wrong.
“There were a lot of people that were not a fan [of Ellis], but I just didn’t understand that,” Carlisle said before Wednesday’s game against Minnesota. “He’s been every bit as good as I thought he would be.
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“The last two stops for him [Golden State and Milwaukee] it’s been just massive touches, high, high volume shots, and really kind of a run of the offense just out of necessity. Here, we have other guys that can make plays, so in a way it’s nice for him that he doesn’t have that kind of responsibility, and that’s a big change.”
Carlisle knew Ellis was all about winning and ready to be more team-oriented when he took nearly a $10 million pay cut to opt out of his contract and play for the Mavs. Selfish players, Carlisle knows, don’t take $10 million pay cuts.
“He’s gone from a guy who touched it virtually every time down the court to now talking more about defense and system and things like that,” Carlisle said. “A lot of guys don’t want to hear about that.
“But he’s been good — he really wants to win. And it shows with his decision to opt out and then come to us. He lost money on that whole exchange.”
Owner Mark Cuban echoed Carlisle’s sentiments in praising Ellis, who was averaging 18.7 points and 5.8 assists per game entering Wednesday.
“Everything you knew about Monta Ellis is wrong — period, end of story,” Cuban said. “The guy just wants to win.
“That’s a heck of a compliment. He’s a perfect example of a guy that the longer he plays under Rick the better he’s going to get.”
Carlisle described Phil Jackson being hired Tuesday as the president of the New York Knicks as “a great hire for New York.”
Carlisle compared it to 1997 when the Indiana Pacers hired Larry Bird as their head coach.
“I think Larry Bird is a great example of what an iconic type guy can do for a franchise,” Carlisle said. “When Larry took the head job at Indiana they were having trouble getting Conseco Fieldhouse built.
“And [Bird] getting there actually had a lot to do with them being able to get the finishing touches on that. As an executive he’s been one of the best of the best and I expect Phil to do the same kinds of great positive things for the Knicks.”
The Los Angeles Clippers have what they call Lob City, which consists of Chris Paul serving up spectacular alley-oop dunks to Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan.
But the Mavs have their own version of Lob City, which consists of Devin Harris lobbing the ball for Brandan Wright for dunks.
“I think the duo of [Harris] and Brandan Wright has turned out to be something special,” Cuban said. “When they get in there, there aren’t many better highlight dunks.
“There’s Lob City, and they’re Helicopter City. Or the Launching Pad.”
Love praises Nowitzki
Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love has nothing but admiration for Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki.
“It’s just that he withstands the test of time,” Love said. “I think somebody at his size — and anybody over 6-8, 6-9 — if you’re able to really shoot the ball you can stay in the league as long as you want.
“He’s been a guy that is still playing at a very, very high level and will continue to be as long as he wants to be. And that’s what I admire most is that he goes out there every game and just competes.”
Cuban, Dirk OK
Cuban said he got no flak from Nowitzki for questioning the defense of his 16-year veteran and adding that he took a “nap” during last Sunday’s game at Oklahoma City.
“He’s used to me,” Cuban said. “It’s been 14 years.
“If there would have been a reaction, I already would have gotten it.”