Monta Ellis

At the present time, Monta Ellis is probably the best free agent left to sign, with the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks all very interested in signing the player.

Ellis averaged 19.2 points per game last season for the Bucks, but preferred opting out of his $11 million deal on the final year of his contract, in hoping to get a long-term deal somewhere else. Reports suggest he declined a two-year, $24 million offer from the Bucks in search of a longer contract, but all three teams can’t possibly offer him that much at this point.

The best option in terms of money seems to be the Atlanta Hawks, who after losing Josh Smith but getting Paul Millsap aren’t looking to fade away from the playoff picture in the Eastern conference, and adding Ellis will certainly keep them in contention.

They have roughly $9 million in cap-space for next season, and rumors suggest they’ll be handing Ellis a deal similar to the one they gave Millsap ($19 million, two years). Ellis doesn’t mind making less money than the $11 million he would have made this season, but does want some job security for the long-term, meaning something like a $36 million, four years, is what he’s looking to get.

The Denver Nuggets might offer the best chance of succeeding next season, but without Andre Iguodala, have a hole to fill at the shooting guard position which they would perfectly fill (on paper) with Ellis, although his style and ball dominance might be about out of sync with what’s been working for the Nuggets (in the regular season) since the departure of Carmelo Anthony.

The Nuggets’ problem is being unable to offer a long term deal. They are over the cap-space, which means they can give Ellis a mid-level exception deal worth $5.15 million a season. This can go as long as three years, but the money is definitely not enough to get Ellis to bite.

And then there are the Mavs, with around $8 million in cap-space, but they aren’t looking to tie down someone like Ellis for too long, even though they’ve lost their “Ellis-type player” in O.J. Mayo to the Milwaukee Bucks. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for maneuvering for them and not a too attractive destination for Ellis, as the Hawks likely emerge as the best option for Ellis at the moment.

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