It feels like we've been snowballing down this hill for some time, but Monday afternoon made it official: Monta Ellis has opted out of his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, and will head for the open waters of unrestricted free agency.
To call this news surprising would be a disservice to gullible ignorance everywhere. Ellis already turned down a "max" deal from the Bucks (three years, $36 million, including the opt-in), both of which sound certifiably insane (the offer and the rejection) when stats and efficiency admitted into the discussion (career-low 44.8% eFG, 49.3% TS in 2012-13).
Right now, the situation is a win for both sides. Ellis will certainly get a new long term deal that will, sooner or later, churn the collective stomach of a fan base. Milwaukee (for the moment) has money to play with elsewhere, and Bucks fans (for the moment) can sleep easy now that their favorite team ran against the grain of history, finally ducking the possibility of overpaying for an underwhelming veteran. For the moment.
Still, there's a good chance the Bucks keep Ellis' cell on speed dial should they choose to jettison Brandon Jennings for assets or a couple of those nifty Tek moister-wicking towels (or Danny Granger? Let's not go down that rabbit hole right now. I'm in a good mood.). If the Bucks had already offered Ellis the most money they could within the constraints of their situation, and made it known they prefer Ellis to Jennings anyways, it's reasonable to assume they'd re-visit the idea when/if Ellis realizes his true market value. To that end, it's worth noting that the Bucks will retain Ellis' Bird rights so long as they can stomach his $16 million cap hold, though their ability to create significant cap space makes that somewhat academic.
According to Chris Broussard's "sources" report, Ellis is likely to be courted by the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Lakers, who could only get "it all" through an unpossible sign-and-trade that could pair Ellis with the enigmatically indifferent Dwight Howard. Oh, the storylines! The storylines!
While the sign-and-trade possibility is likely to spawn a litany of Trade Machine spins and blissful proposals in article comment galleries, it's important to remember just how ugly the Lakers' cap situation is. Go to Lakers Nation and read Andrew Ungvari's brilliant article before succumbing to the temptation of the Trade Machine.
But like any good horror movie, we can't rest easy after initial reports of a monster/killer's first supposed demise. Not until the ink is dry on Ellis' next contract, and #monte makes another appearance on Twitter, will we breathe easy knowing our exhausting nightmare of contested jumpers, early possession shots, and quiet, confident hubris have been quelled.
Bottom line: We knew this was coming, it came, and I'm still flabbergasted that Chris Broussard still erects a middle finger at that journalism 101 class he skipped in college.