Monta Ellis has informed the Milwaukee Bucks he will be opting out of the last season of his contract, according to Chris Broussard.
Sources: Monte Ellis has told Bucks he is opting out of the 1-year, $11 million left on his contract. Will become coveted free agent
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 17, 2013
Ellis had to make a decision by June 20. It was widely expected that Ellis would opt out, so this likely comes as no surprise to the Bucks. Reports surfaced earlier this month that Milwaukee had, at some point, unsuccessfully offered Ellis an extension that would have paid him $36 million over three years, the opt-in year included.
Given Milwaukee’s supposed previous offer to Ellis, it seems safe to assume that Milwaukee will pursue the free agent Ellis. Broussard has reported that the Hawks, Mavericks and Lakers all have interested in Ellis. Atlanta worked hard to get Ellis into a trade deadline deal involving Josh Smith, but couldn’t get the Bucks to include him. Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward blog rated Ellis as the fourth best potentially available “ball handler” entering free agency. Of course, they rate Brandon Jennings third, so many Bucks fans could make a case to flip the two.
As someone who has covered the Bucks for the entirety of Ellis’ stay on the roster, it’s difficult to get much of a feel for whether or not he enjoyed his time here or really wants to return. Around the media he’s very cautious. He doesn’t say much, and when he speaks it’s typically in generalities and cliche. He’s not combative, because he more or less just avoids or waits out the media. It wouldn’t be difficult to use that information to paint a picture of a guy who doesn’t really like where he’s at.
But at the same time, I’ve watched Monta avoid all of us like he was playing hide and seek and then spotted him minutes later engaging with children away from the cameras, pulling them in closer for a photo and telling them not to be scared. In those moments, he seemed comfortable and engaging. With us, not so much. But it’s hard to blame him.
Reports came out at different times this year that both painted him as a model teammate and a malcontent. Ellis was named a co-captain before the season started and was painted as the type of guy who doesn’t speak often but speaks with authority when he does. Then reports came out about a confrontation between he and Larry Sanders over selfishness in the playoffs.
Ultimately, I’m of the belief that Ellis will not return. The Hawks are going to have money and likely won’t be able to land their dream duo of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. The Mavericks have more appeal as a franchise and city. The Lakers … they seem to have ways of making things happen. I don’t think Ellis hated Milwaukee, but I’m not sure he enjoyed it enough or is sufficiently inspired by the current roster to really want to work to make something work here.
We may remember the Ellis and Jennings experience as a one year blip that made no waves, something that was about as effective as Michael Redd and T.J. Ford, but without all the hopefulness and later regret that those two caused.