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NBA PM: Monta Ellis Wants to Retire A Maverick

Monta Ellis could become a free agent this summer, but doesn’t want to leave the Dallas Mavericks.

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Last season, Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis went a long way toward changing the way he’s regarded as a player. Often characterized as an inefficient, high-volume scorer who doesn’t play “winning” basketball, Ellis proved that he can excel while staying in the confines of a system and be a top option on a playoff team – a playoff team that gave the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs their toughest series before they went on to win it all.

It was that shoot-first, win-later mentality that drove Ellis’ price down in free agency in 2013. With hopes of signing a deal in the $10-12 million range, Ellis eventually settled on three-year, $25 million deal that paid him $8.3 million annually from the Mavericks. He has a player option that he could decline in order to test the free agent market again and look to capitalize off of his success with the Mavericks. Free agency could be much more fruitful for him this time around, especially since at 29 years old it’s still conceivable that he has at least three to four prime years left. However, while the possibility of earning a raise and long-term security is great, Ellis is hoping it happens right where he’s at now.

“It is a business, but at the same time, I’m going to look into everything with my family, sit down with my wife, my kids and we’re going to go from there,” Ellis said to SportsDayDFW.com. “But I’m with the Dallas Mavericks for the next two years and hopefully throughout the rest of my career.

“[My family] loves it here. I would love to retire here. My wife loves it. It’s good because she’s trying to go back to law school and get into being a lawyer or whatever. So my life is great on the outside of basketball. I love the city of Dallas. I like how they embraced me. That’s the thing that was with me as well. My first two years at Golden State, the fans embraced me so much that it wanted me to give back to them. That’s why I worked so hard to be the type of player that I was because the fans were 100 percent behind me. And when I came here it was the same way. It got me back to want to give back to them because they give me so much.”

Prior to joining the Mavericks, Ellis was with a floundering Milwaukee Bucks team that lost so much it really took a toll on him. The stability of the Mavericks, from the top of the power hierarchy on down, has made a huge difference for Ellis.

“When I came here, I didn’t know what to expect,” Ellis said. “I had gone through some dark, dark years in the last four years of my career. The last two years at Golden State leaving that organization and then going to Milwaukee, an organization that didn’t know what direction was headed or where it wanted to go. When you’re at a place where it’s like getting up in the morning and you have to go to a job and you’re like, ‘Well. I don’t know what to expect today.’ It’s not a good feeling. But when you wake up every morning and you know you’re about to go do what you love doing with a great group of guys and an organization that wants to win, it makes you appreciate winning and wanting to work hard again. Because having Dirk [Nowitzki], a hall of fame guy who comes in and works his butt off day and night, in the morning, before and after practice, before games and after games, that makes you want to build those same habits. He has that winning mentality. When I came here and I saw that, it really made me love the game of basketball.”

What will help drive up Ellis’ value more than anything is the success of the Mavericks. He’s proven already that he can put up points no matter where he’s at, but if he can add a deep playoff run to his resume, it will help increase the belief that he can come in and make a team better. After an active offseason in which the Mavericks added Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons, Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, Richard Jefferson and Al Farouq-Aminu, Ellis believes the Mavericks are better equipped to compete for a championship.

“We have a lot of depth on our bench,” Ellis said. “We brought Tyson [Chandler] back, who is really good on the defensive end. We brought in Chandler Parsons, who is a young energetic two-way player on the offensive and defensive side. We have a great group of guys that understand the game. Jameer [Nelson], Raymond [Felton], Richard Jefferson, [Al] Farouq Aminu. So I think we loaded. Everyone came into training camp with a great mindset. Everybody came in shape and every day we challenge each other to get better and better. At the same time, we have fun. We have that chemistry where we can stand one another. It’s nothing but jokes and fun and excitement in the locker room. But at the same time, we can take good criticism and don’t get offended by it to get better and better every day. I think we did a wonderful job of putting a good group of guys together who want to win.”

“It wouldn’t [be close if we played last year’s team] at all because coming off the bench with Vince [Carter] and Jefferson is neck and neck. No disrespect to Shawn Marion, but bringing in Parsons to fill his shoes brings in a young guy who can shoot the ball well to stretch the defense. With Tyson [Chandler] and Sam [Dalembert], it depends on what Sam you get. I think this team is a whole lot better because everybody came in in shape, everybody just wants to win. Our bench is way deeper than last year. The experience we have on our team this year is way better than last year. I think this team should be at least 20-plus games better than last year if we all come in like we have in training camp.”

Love Makes Debut for The Players’ Tribune

Last week, Blake Griffin put out his debut article for The Players’ Tribune, detailing his interactions with Donald Sterling and how things have changed with Steve Ballmer now owning the team instead. Kevin Love, one of the newest members of the Cleveland Cavaliers, released his debut article today, and talks about his interesting summer that included switching teams for the first time in his career. Here’s an excerpt from the must-read feature.

I grew up a lot – personally and professionally – during my time with the Wolves. I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t always handle things perfectly. We are all unfinished products. It’s not easy to handle the disappointment of losing when you’re in your early twenties. There were times when I wasn’t easy to be around in the locker room. It’s hard to be a leader when you don’t have the model — and when you don’t have a blueprint for what winning in the NBA looks like.
But I make no excuses. I posted my best personal numbers last season, and we still didn’t make the playoffs. Some of the backlash was pretty hard to take — I learned that there is apparently such a thing as an “empty stat” (I’ll try to remember the importance of that the next time I am boxing out for a rebound against Tim Duncan).

In the end, I was given the opportunity to move on, and I took it. My decision was about wanting to win. When I think back to being a kid shooting on an eight-foot hoop in my Shawn Kemp jersey, I never dreamed about putting up a triple-double or signing a max contract. I dreamed about holding up a championship trophy. In order to get to that place, I knew that I needed to move on.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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