- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’d be news if the Mavericks weren’t interested in a starting-caliber free agent who plays point guard, shooting guard or center.
At this point, the Mavs must explore all options and at least do their due diligence on every potential roster addition. It’s imperative to be prepared for Plans C, D, E, etc. in case they don’t land Chris Paul (looking like a longer and longer shot by the minute) or Dwight Howard.
So an in-his-prime guard with a career average of 19.4 points per game is definitely going to pique the Mavs’ interest. That doesn’t mean Monta Ellis would be a perfect fit here by any stretch of the imagination.
The Mavs’ preference would be to get an established pass-first point guard to work with Dirk Nowitzki. That description definitely doesn’t fit Ellis, who has never averaged more than six assists per game and launched more shots than any player other than Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony last season. Ellis is really a combo guard, not a point guard. (He'd be a great fit for Jason Terry's old role, but that's a luxury the Mavs don't have right now.)
The Mavs’ ideal point guard would be a deadly 3-point threat who could also consistently knock down the midrange jumpers that are so often wide open when running pick-and-pops with Dirk. Ellis is a classic volume jump shooter; he fires up a bunch and a few actually go in.
Ellis’ 3-point accuracy last season (28.7 percent on 328 tries) was the NBA’s worst among any player with more than 170 attempts. According to hoopdata.com, Ellis attempted the second-most long 2-pointers among point guards (4.9 per game) despite hitting only 34.0 percent of them.
And Ellis is an inconsistent defender, to put it kindly. He gets a lot of steals, but he gets beat too often.
Why would the Mavs be interested in a player with so many flaws?
Start with the fact that Ellis is one of the most dynamic penetrators in the league. You could make a strong case that Nowitzki has never played with anyone who could match Ellis’ ability to get to the basket. Signing Ellis would immediately and significantly ease the offensive burden on Nowitzki, adding an element that has been missing from the Mavs’ offense.
And, other than CP3, it’s not like there are any perfect point guard candidates in free agency.
Jose Calderon is a great passer and shooter, but he’s a poor defender who isn’t a creator. Mo Williams is a shooter who doesn’t scare anyone off the dribble. Jarrett Jack is a combo guard who isn’t especially athletic. And on and on.
The Mavs have some interest in all of them. Which one they sign, if any of them, will depend on money among other factors.
If Ellis gets close to the $11 million salary he’d been making, the Mavs would be wise to pass. He’s far from a perfect fit for the Mavs as a point guard, so he’d better be a good fit financially.