HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Milwaukee Bucks free agent guard Monta Ellis is currently deciding between offers from the Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks, according to a league source.
Ellis is intrigued by the Kings, according to the source. Sacramento will have to move one of its existing guards first, however, to be able to get Ellis, a career 19-point per game scorer and one of the last major free agents left on the market that hasn’t yet agreed to terms with a new or current team.
Sacramento agreed to acquire Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute Tuesday for two future second-round picks, according to league sources. It’s not clear if getting Mbah a Moute, who is scheduled to make $4.58 million next season, would prohibit the Kings from being able to make a run at Ellis.
The Mavericks would almost certainly have to find a trade partner for forward Shawn Marion and his expiring $9.3 million contract to be able to create enough cap room to sign Ellis. Dallas agreed last week on a four-year, $29 million deal for free agent point guard Jose Calderon, and also have deals for veteran Devin Harris and Israeli point guard Gal Mekel. But the Mavericks need a two guard.
Sources confirmed an ESPN.com report that the Bucks are looking to acquire point guard Jeff Teague from the Hawks, who played last season for Milwaukee’s new coach, Larry Drew. If Atlanta can pull that deal off, Ellis could come in and play point guard for the Hawks next season. The Hawks have agreed to re-sign free agent guard Kyle Korver, and reached agreement last Friday on a two-year, $19.2 million deal for Jazz free agent forward Paul Millsap. Ellis opted out of the final year of his six-year, $66 million contract last month, which would have paid him $11 million for the upcoming season.
The Chicago Bulls also were very interested in Ellis, but couldn’t figure out a way to swing a deal with Milwaukee without giving up one of their core pieces, including forward Taj Gibson. The Bulls are convinced a return to health from their key players, notably 2011 league MVP Derrick Rose, will get them back to the top of the Eastern Conference next season. Chicago agreed to terms last week with free agent forward Mike Dunleavy, Jr.
The Nuggets, another team that has interest in Ellis, are likely to create a $12 million cap exception after completing a sign-and-trade deal with Golden State for forward Andre Iguodala. But Denver is not currently among the teams making the biggest play for Ellis.
The 27-year-old Ellis averaged 19.2 points per game last season for the Bucks, who were the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and were swept by the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. After agreeing to sign guard O.J. Mayo when the NBA moratorium on contract signings ends Wednesday, the Bucks are also likely to lose their other starting guard from last season, restricted free agent Brandon Jennings.