It’s been 233 days since we last saw Monta Ellis in a Dallas Mavericks uniform. While we have maybe caught a glimmer of what he has done as a member of the Indiana Pacers, I decided to dive in a little deeper and really take a look at how both sides have fared since the Mavericks and Ellis decided to part ways.
On July 3rd, Ellis agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal with the Indiana Pacers. It was widely speculated that the Mavericks were not going to sign Ellis, and 6 days later, you knew why. The Mavericks signed Wes Matthews to a four-year $70 million max deal. In two seasons with Dallas, Ellis averaged 19 points, 4.9 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Right from the beginning, it was clear that Ellis had something to prove after a rough stint as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ellis provided the Mavericks with a player who was able to get to the basket at will, and be someone who was ready to perform in clutch moments. Often times, it seemed that Ellis was the guy the Mavericks drew that final play up, which took the pressure off of Dirk Nowitzki. When the Mavericks stormed out of the gates last season with a 19-8 record, the front office decided to finally bring in Rajon Rondo via trade, as he was a player they coveted for years.
Bottom Line: It just didn’t work out.
While they seemed to say all the right things, it was painfully obvious that Ellis and Rondo never quite formed the chemistry required for a playoff run, which became evident in the first round of the playoffs when Rondo “quit” on the Mavericks Game 2 against the Houston Rockets.
Fast forward to this season. The Mavericks went all in on DeAndre Jordan and while they were out whining and dining him at the very start of Free Agency, they also seemed fully intent on signing Wes Matthews. This was a whole different direction for the Mavericks. Last season, it was obvious that the franchise struggled mightily from beyond the arc, and had issues on the other end of the floor as well. Matthews would provide the Mavericks with something Ellis couldn’t, shooting and solid two way play.
Wes Matthews (Dallas) : 13.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 spg
Monta Ellis (Indiana) : 12.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.8 spg
Ellis In The Hoosier State:
As I mentioned above, one of the biggest strengths of Ellis’ game is his ability to attack the basket at any costs. That hasn’t been the case in Indiana. One of the reasons for this could be the fact that he underwent surgery on his knee before the free agency period started. Despite it being labeled as “minor,” the Mavericks certainly weren’t going to entertain the idea of bringing him back. Despite the news, the Indiana Pacers took their shot.
Courtesy of IndyCornrows.com
It could be the knee that is leading him to be cautious attacking the rim, or it could be the fact that he still hasn’t found his niche on the team just yet. Ellis is at his best when he is getting to the rim, which allows him to get some separation when shooting from the perimeter.
“It’s coming along,” Ellis said. “The thing is, I just gotta be consistent with it. My main focus is trying to bring that same (level of) play every night.”
Matthews in Big D:
Wesley Matthews has proven to be a whole different animal. While the Mavericks didn’t take any risk in signing Ellis to a new deal with news of that off-season knee surgery, they took even more risk signing Matthews. Matthews put all of those worries to bed well before anyone could have imagined. Back in April of last season in a game against the Mavericks, Matthews tore his Achilles. It was widely believed that he wouldn’t return until around Christmas.
Matthews played in the pre-season finale, and made his Mavericks debut opening night against the Phoenix Suns. If you are looking for similarities between Matthews and Ellis, you will find it in their will to play at any cost. If you tell them they can’t, they are going to show you they can. Matthews didn’t get off to the best start this season as he was working his way back into playing shape.
Back on December 5th, a day after going 1-9 from the field in the loss to Houston, Matthews said, “I suck right now. Point blank, period, I suck right now on the offensive end as far as shooting the ball, as far as what I can do, as far as making shots and what everybody knows I can do. I’ve got to find it on this road trip and sustain it.”
Since then, Matthews is averaging 20.8 points, going 36-80 (45%) and 23-51 (45%) from beyond the arc. He is tenacious on both sides of the ball, which was evident when the Mavericks took on the Atlanta Hawks. Matthews was given the task of stopping Kyle Korver, who ended up scoring only 8 points and went 1-6 from long distance.
“He’s had a rough go here, and the important thing is we all kept encouraging him,” said Rick Carlisle. “What he’s doing is extremely difficult, coming back from that injury on this timetable.”
Where both teams go from here is unknown. The Dallas Mavericks (14-11) have surprised many at the early part of the season, and with the way the West is shaping up, could very well find themselves comfortably in the playoff picture. They continue to revamp their roster year in and year out. They lost out on the DeAndre Jordan sweepstakes, but may have hit a home run with the signing of Zaza Pachulia. Nowitzki continues to show that his production will not slip along with his age. If Chandler Parsons can find his rhythm again and Deron Williams can continue on his comeback season, the Mavericks offense should look very good moving into the later stages of the season.
The Indiana Pacers (14-9) are a work in progress. They figure to be a tough opponent each and every night, as they have taken down teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, and the Miami Heat. They should be in the top 4 of the Eastern Conference by the end of the regular season, and could be one of the teams to give LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers a run. Ellis still hasn’t gotten it going just yet, but if he starts to find his game and begins to attack the interior defense, it could open up things for Paul George, C.J. Miles and George Hill.