When shooting guard Monta Ellis opted out of the final season of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks and became a free agent last summer, there was no mad rush on the Mavs’ part to try to re-sign him.
Sure, Ellis has a history of being surly at times, and that rubbed some people the wrong way. Even forward Chandler Parsons said of Ellis: “He’s just another player on another team to me.”
Coach Rick Carlisle, however, said the Mavericks’ aggressive recruitment of Los Angeles Clippers free-agent center DeAndre Jordan last summer played a major role in Ellis slipping through their fingers and signing a four-year, $44 million contract with the Indiana Pacers.
“A lot of it hinged around the fact that it looked like Jordan was going to be here,” Carlisle said after Friday’s practice at American Airlines Center. “That was one of the reasons the thinking changed a little bit.”
Ellis and the Pacers (34-30) will face Dallas (33-32) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the AAC after drilling the Mavs 107-81 in Indiana behind 19 points from Ellis on Dec. 16.
Look, Monta was terrific the two years here. He helped us win 99 games in two years and get to the playoffs — he played extremely well.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
Ellis played two seasons for the Mavs and led them in scoring (18.9), steals (1.9) and minutes played (33.7) last season as Dallas compiled a 50-32 record. Two years ago Ellis led the Mavs in assists (6.7), steals (1.72) and minutes played (36.9), and was second in scoring (19) on a team that went 49-33.
With Ellis around, the Mavericks didn’t have to lean so heavily on Dirk Nowitzki for scoring, unlike this season. Ellis had even become the Mavs’ go-to player whenever they needed a clutch basket down the stretch — a baton Nowitzki didn’t mind passing along to the talented shooting guard who can take virtually anyone off the dribble and get his shot.
But after Ellis signed with the Pacers and Jordan reneged on an oral commitment to sign with Dallas, the Mavericks awarded free-agent shooting guard Wesley Matthews a four-year, $70 million contract. Still, Carlisle wanted all to know how much he appreciated what Ellis gave the Mavs during his two years in Dallas.
“Look, Monta was terrific the two years here,” Carlisle said. “He helped us win 99 games in two years and get to the playoffs — he played extremely well.
“I would have loved to have him back either way, but there’s a limit to the amount of money you can spend and the number of guys you can bring in. And he and Wes are both terrific players, and we’re happy with Wes.”
After watching Indiana Pacers forward Myles Turner on film, Carlisle said he knows why fans in Indianapolis are giddy about their prized rookie from Texas and Euless Trinity High School.
It looks like he’s got an extreme upside. That said, he’s pretty damn good right now.
Rick Carlisle on former Euless Trinity star Myles Turner
“He’s extremely active, very skilled, [has] the ability to play inside, [shoot] mid-range and long range,” Carlisle said. “He’s shooting the three some, good rebounder, very promising player. I can see why they’re excited about him.”
Turner played one sesaon at Texas before declaring for the NBA Draft. The Pacers used the 11th overall pick of last year’s NBA Draft to select Turner, who was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in February.
“It looks like he’s got an extreme upside,” Carlisle said. “That said, he’s pretty damn good right now. He gets the ball in the basket from virtually any spot on the floor for a guy that’s 6-[foot]-11, 7-feet. He just has a really impressive bounce to his game, high energy, good first, second, third bounce off the floor, [and] very effective.”